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By Courtland Hopkins

“You should move to a small town, somewhere the rule of law still exists. You will not survive here. You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now.”

After coming out of Sicario by Denis Villeneuve one feels a sense that one’s soul has been subjected to a thorough scouring by an intense tale of violence and revenge. The film stars Emily Blunt in a strong performance as Kate Macer, an idealistic FBI agent fighting the eternal war on drugs in Arizona. After a particular grisly discovery in a raid on a cartel hideout, Macer is offered a chance to actually go after the real bad guys in Mexico. Her new assignment is overseen by a dry and sardonic Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and the mysterious Alejandro, played with blistering fury by Benicio Del Toro. They embark on a war against the cartels. But thanks to Alejandro, this war dissolves into mayhem and moral darkness. The film rises with ever-escalating action and moral crisis and the conclusion left me seated in the theatre after everyone else had left. The film pulls no punches while discussing carnage, violence, revenge, justice and lawlessness. I find it comparable to Taxi Driver and Straw Dogs as films that delve deep into the darkness of the human heart.

The film is filled with the desolation of the desert. The cinematography is filled with blistering heat or fading light, which gives it a strange Biblical feel, as if Blunt is a Christ figure being tempted by Satan. The music is sparse and apocalyptic. The film is very well knit together, building tension and drawing the viewer into the action. Sicario feels real, which in turns makes the story and questions more lasting and powerful. The film feels like a fierce beast that breathes.

The most fascinating thing about this story is that there are two heroes; the straight-laced Emily Blunt as well as the apocalyptic Benicio Del Toro on his mission of vengeance. Both want to punish evil but for vastly different reasons and one and only one will ultimately succeed. Which is more important: order or justice? The film demands that the viewer ponder their own thoughts on the subject. I think that is the hallmark of a good film. It makes you think deeply and long after the film is done. Some reviewers are calling Sicario the best movie of the year and I must say it is pretty close. It’s a deep scouring of the morality of the viewer. It draws you into the heart of mayhem and lets you find your way out.

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Posted in All Reviews, By Courtland Hopkins.

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