Main cast: Emily Blunt (Kate Macer), Benicio del Toro (Alejandro Gillick), Josh Brolin (Matt Graver), Victor Garber (Dave Jennings), Jon Bernthal (Ted), Daniel Kaluuya (Reggie Wayne), Jeffrey Donovan (Steve Forsing), Raoul Trujillo (Rafael), Julio Cesar Cedillo (Fausto Alarcón), Hank Rogerson (Phil Coopers), Bernardo Saracino (Manuel Díaz), and Maximiliano Hernández (Silvio)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Sicario means “hired killer” in Spanish, usually used to describe those hired by drug cartels in Mexico, so it’s no surprise that the focus of this story is Benicio del Toro’s Alejandro Gillick, who is just that – a hired killer. His character is the designated mysterious, morally ambiguous fellow who claims to be on the good guys’ side for the time being because their goals are temporarily aligned, but surprise, in the end it turns out that Alejandro is not that bad after all.
The whole things when Kate Macer and Reggie Wayne, two agents of the FBI Critical Response Group, lead a raid on some Mexican cartel safehouse in Phoenix. What they find are dozens of dead bodies as well as a booby trap that kills a few of their men. Following this, they are placed in a special joint task force, led by Matt Graver, to led the bad guy, whom they have singled out to be the Sonora Cartel lieutenant Manuel Díaz. But Kate will soon discover that things are never as clear cut as they seem to be at first, especially when it comes to Matt’s buddy, Alejandro. Allies will turn out to be bad guys after all, while bad guys turn out to be unexpected allies. Who exactly are Alejandro and Matt working for? Poor Kate, she isn’t exactly jumping to be on board in the first place, so will Kate get out of this mess with her hide intact?
To be fair, nothing is really out of the ordinary here. Matt wears slippers and behaves like all gung-ho, so of course he is edgy and rebellious and… surprise, part of the twist. I’ve already mentioned that Alejandro turns out to be not that bad in the end, and his motives are pretty similar to every other similar archetype in thrillers of this sort in the past. Yes, Mr del Toro looks hot enough to trot here, but come on, I’ve seen his character many times before. Emily Blunt is, as always, icy and regal even when her character’s back is against the wall, and the rest of the cast is all solid. Her character is basically a pawn in this movie, but to be fair, Kate never comes off as a victim. She’s just outplayed because she doesn’t have all the information to keep up with Matt and Alejandro.
The movie is also well put together, with good pacing and cinematography. I have a good time watching this. Still… a part of me will always think that this one is just a better made B-grade action movie with a solid cast that plays characters that they have done a few times already. The scary thing is, I believe I would love Sicario more if the people behind it had dropped all the edgy “this is high art” vibe and just gone full out violent and gory on me. Still, this is definitely worth a watch.