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Sicario (2015) Review

Updated on April 21, 2017

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Emily Blunt (Kate Macer), Benicio del Toro (Alejandro Gillick), Josh Brolin (Matt Graver), Daniel Kaluuya (Reggie Wayne)


Sicario is Villeneuve’s second mainstream movie, and much like his other’s (Prisoners and Arrival), the movie firmly establishes Villeneuve as one of the top new filmmakers in Hollywood. It’s considered to be a thriller, but it doesn’t focus on pacing as much as most other movies of the genre. Instead, Villeneuve has wisely decided to focus more on having a haunting atmosphere and theme which actually says something on a more profound level (a tendency it shares with the director’s other movies).


This haunting atmosphere, for instance, is noticeable from the beginning with a SWAT raid on a drug dealer’s house and find numerous dead bodies hidden in the walls. The shed outside the house soon explodes, killing two officers. The leader of the raid (Kate) is soon recruited to join a DOD-CIA task force in taking down a local cartel lieutenant (and the person believed to be responsible). Her partner (Reggie) is initially left off the task force due to initially being a lawyer. Anyway, unbeknownst to Kate, the operation actually begins in Juarez, Mexico instead of El Paso, Texas like she’d previously been told. First, the team needs to find the lieutenant’s brother.


Like I inferred earlier, the movie moves a bit slower than your typical thriller. But in this case, doing so is in no way a bad thing. The movie does a great job of making the audience care about the characters. It also emphasizes the emotional impact on them each. This works especially well due to the performances of those involved, especially that of del Toro who turned in the best performance I’ve seen him do since Traffic. In addition, the cinematography and the music were also really well done. At various points in the movie, I couldn’t help but admire some of the shots (especially during the climax, which made Blade Runner seem brightly lit). The score was also especially brilliant, though sometimes barely noticeable. In other words, it was treating more as background noise than as something to drive the plot. Overall, I could think of nothing I didn’t like about this movie—as probably the best crime film I’ve seen this decade so far (though not this century).


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