Blunt in Sicario

 

“You’re asking me how a watch works; for now just keep an eye on the time”

We all have a desire for clarity – to know what our goals are and what our objective is at any given moment. So when a movie comes along and tells us to “just go with it”, the result can be daunting, complicated, intense, and confusing.

Not know what is going on brings about a certain sort of dread – like the whole world knows a secret that we don’t. So while sometimes for us as filmgoers it can be entertaining to watch a film that doesn’t show its hand until the final act, for the characters in the film, playing things so close to the vest can be confounding.

SICARIO begins with a drug raid in Arizona. When the mission costs two lives, the lead FBI agent Kate (Emily Blunt) is brought into a non-distinct meeting of higher-ups. She believes its to debreif them on what shook down, but instead it’s a moment of recruitment for an inter-agency mission against a high level drug cartel. Both the parameters and objective are shaky when described by an agent named Matt (Josh Brolin)…but the chance to do some good in the war on drugs is appealing to Karen and she agrees.

Soon she is reaching well beyond the FBI’s jurisdiction into Mexico, and fighting alongside an unknown agent by the name of Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) to extract high value targets. But to what end?

One of the delights of SICARIO is watching the ever-changing dynamic between Blunt and Del Toro.¬†Their relationship is built on a narrow patch of ground in-between trust and distrust, and while it’s never one of equals, there’s a quiet respect between the two of them that carries through until the film’s bitter end. So much is achieved without words exchanged, and the words that¬†are exchanged often carry a great amount of edge. There are flecks of familial bonds, professional distrust, platonic affection, and mutual personal respect that all make their way into the way these two talented actors work together…and it’s incredible to watch evolve

At the end of the day, SICARIO is a model of execution. It’s not the sort of story that’s going to resonate through the years, nor the sort of filmmaking that will spawn scores of descendants. But what it does it does so. bloody. well. The writing, photography, sound, acting, and direction on display in this film is stone cold perfect. It knows that the same way we can grow tense by the sight of a car in the rearview mirror, that same car disappearing can make us worry all the more.

A lesser film would have things to say about good versus bad; SICARIO is more interested in illustrating the chaos that can occur in-between.