D: Denis Villeneuve. DP: Roger Deakins. W: Taylor Sheridan. Starring: Emily Blunt/Josh Brolin/Benicio Del Toro/Victor Garber/Jon Bernthal/Daniel Kaluuya/Jeffrey Donovan/Maximiliano Hernández.
As London Film Festival comes to a close this weekend there is still plenty to see out in theaters. Sicario is the next installment in movies about the Mexican/American border cartel crisis, but it’s not what it seems. Rather it follows FBI kidnapping crisis leader Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) as she’s roped into a border crossing mission that has her out of the loop and into the line of fire.
Veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins whose responsible for so many favorites (Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, A Beautiful Mind, Skyfall) is in full command here. Aerial shots and thermal cameras work with long shots to create an aura of surveillance and threat. Yet the character connections are not lost on camera either. Deakins pulls us into Kate’s world, but never relies on extreme close ups to deliver the punch.
Working for the second time together, Deakins and Canadian director Denis Villeneuve
are slated to work on the Blade Runner reboot. Villeneuve’s mind cringing film Enemy might make you say WHAT? when it is over, but it’s better handled than his child snatching who-dun-it Prisoners. Clear in both of these film, as well as Sicario, is good acting. No one in Sicario plays anything over the top, rather disgust and confusion help build suspense. Suspense that is fantastically illuminated by Jóhann Jóhhannsson’s score. He won a Golden Globe last year for scoring The Theory of Everything, but this time the score reverberates through the seats building the most beautiful dread.
Blunt straps on Kate’s glock quite well, she is believable as an FBI buster but with less guts than her role in Edge of Tomorrow. Blunt’s relate-ability doesn’t come across as ordinariness rather she is everyone and herself at the same time. In other words, she is able to encourage the audience to root for her and identify with her, but never loses her singularity. Benicio Del Toro’s sexy-weird-creepy-silent Alejandro grounds the film’s nebulousness giving the violence a grim reaper sheen to it. Daniel Kaluuya is nice as her partner and Jon Bernthal’s small role is well crafted.
Sicario feels fresh because it is a hitman movie not about the hitman. There are small flaws in the scripts, a few cheats and tricks that you can see coming. In line with the feminism in Hollywood hot topic debate of late it is nice to see a female led action film that brings depth, Blunt continues to make good choices. Overall it’s a solid film built around character rather than action, we shall see what this duo can do with Blade Runner.