Sicario

LetterboxD review link

Dennis Villeneuve directed one of my favorite films of the past 5 years, Incendies. I didn’t realize before stepping in to Sicario that this was a film by the same director. However, after learning of the connection, the similarities are very clear. The biggest departure, however, was that the female protagonist in Sicario doesn’t play as central a role as the female protagonist in Incendies. Kate (Emily Blunt) serves more as a filter, maybe a filament, through whom we watch the stories of Alejandro and Matt fold out.

Matt and Alejandro, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro respectively, are distillations of the American government and the drug cartels it is supposed to oppose. But, it becomes clear in this movie and in life, that these institutions are not always at odds. In fact, sometimes they have to work together to achieve similar, if slightly perpendicular, goals.

All of this plays out in a simple, stripped down, lightly plotted film. There are only a few action (very good) scenes, but a dreadful feeling is present throughout. In part because of a pressing score and in part because of classic Roger Deakins cinematography.

Near the end of the film, Alejandro tells Kate, “you should move to a small town. You won’t survive here. You’re not a wolf, this is a land for wolves now.” That’s the director’s biggest accomplishment. It is abundantly clear by the end of the film, that there are parts of the United States that mirror a war zone more than they mirror the United States I live in every day. If Zero Dark Thirty ended with a reflection on how America has changed as a result of wars abroad, this film is a clear argument that America has changed, also, because of wars within.