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Review – Sicario

Sicario Poster

Sicario.  A term used for a hit man in Mexico.  Also the name of one of the most brilliant films of 2015.

From the very first moments, this movie grips you by the throat and threatens to never let go.  Relenting just enough to let you breathe, it dives straight into an unrelenting world of danger and secrets best left under the rocks where they were hiding.

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is a talented, if a bit overly optimistic, FBI agent who plays by the book despite patrolling an area of the country that decidedly does not.  Trying to keep order in the orderless area just over the Mexican border, she’s treading water – for every little bit of progress she and her team make, it seems like another, worse, problem rears its head.  With the promise of being able to take off one of those heads at the shoulders, she volunteers to join a secretive governmental task force lead by a couple of figures (Josh Brolin, and Benicio del Toro) who seem nearly as shady as the people she’s trying to put behind bars.

Victor Garber and Jeffrey Donovan also appear.

After a heart-stopping opening sequence, Sicario takes it down a notch, operating at a slow but intense burn.  It’s not in a hurry to get to a destination, but the journey is what matters as we and Kate are thrown into a world where rules don’t seem to apply, nothing makes sense, and no one can be trusted.  It’s an unflinching tale of moral corruption wrapped in a thrilling story with a beautiful big bow on top.  As smart as it is good looking, Sicario is deftly filmed with gorgeous shots at every turn.  No shot is wasted and the finished is like a careful constructed piece of chaotic art.  Aerial views will steal your breath, transitions are brilliant, and one symbolic shot in particular of men and women marching into a setting sun deserves to be counted among the most iconic images in cinema.

There is absolutely no way to foretell exactly how this story will end – like the parts of life it reflects, there is no clean cut closing paragraph.  It keeps you on your toes and pulls no punches, awash with moments that are almost unbelievable.  At times, the film does seem to get lost within itself which may be enough to call forth cries of boredom from the less than patient audience, but those moments are few and the film is no less brilliant because of them, though it could have perhaps been just a sliver better.

A decidedly mature film with moral shades of grey, complex issues, and real characters.  For someone looking for a thrilling tale without the bombast of summer blockbusters, this is the ticket.

Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Four out of five hats

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Trailer:

Sicario expands into select theaters, including in the DC area, September 25

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