Sicario Review
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These days, wars are neither clear-cut nor straightforward. They’re dark and shadowy and painted in varying shades of grey. That’s just as true for wars fought on our own soil as it is for wars fought overseas. And in Sicario, a young woman is recruited to fight a war that she doesn’t fully understand.

Sicario stars Emily Blunt as Kate, an FBI agent who finds herself in the middle of the war on drugs after a raid leads her team to something much bigger than expected. She’s asked to join a shadowy government task force on a mission to bring down the heads of a ruthless cartel in Mexico. And as she begins to grasp the tremendous scope of the cartel’s influence and power on both sides of the border, she also learns that, for the mysterious men on her team, the rules that she’s been trained to follow don’t apply.

Sicario is an intense and disorienting crime thriller—one in which the lines are often blurred between right and wrong and between the good guys and the bad guys. It’s harsh and often gruesome, but it’s also skillfully acted and beautifully filmed by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins.

Told from the perspective of the idealistic, by-the-book young agent, Sicario hands viewers a weapon, a Kevlar vest, and a pair of night vision goggles and places them right in the center of the bewildering action—in a team that’s already been assembled and a mission that’s already been planned. Everything here is clouded in secrecy. There are no introductions, no detailed debriefings—just mysterious operations, rounds of shots fired, and meetings behind closed doors. Like Kate, you won’t know what’s going on or why—and that only adds to the tension.

Of course, Kate’s type of character is nothing new. In gritty crime movies like this one, the clueless rookie helps to show just how far the reality of the situation often strays from the lessons learned at the academy. Here, allies quickly turn into enemies, and bad guys can turn out to be your friends. Sometimes, you end up breaking laws in the name of justice. And the only way to survive is to take a devil-may-care attitude—like Josh Brolin’s character does—and do whatever it takes. Kate doesn’t get a whole lot of time to get used to this new reality—but, fortunately, she handles it better than the typical by-the-book young recruit. She may be idealistic, but she’s not entirely naive. She’s strong and smart, but she’s in over her head, completely unprepared for the assignment. And while her strength makes her a likable lead, her perspective makes the film tense and suspenseful.

The story isn’t necessarily new or shocking, but the fascinating characters and the secretive storytelling make Sicario a gripping thriller—the kind that grabs you with the first scene and doesn’t let you catch your breath until the closing credits roll.

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