I can’t remember when I saw the trailer for Sicario, but it definitely made me want to see the movie. The medieval brutality of Mexican drug gangs is particularly disturbing. Stories of Vlad Tepes and Tomás de Torquemada are horrific, but let’s face it: they happened centuries ago and the violence is dimmed over time. When it happens today, it’s somehow uniquely horrible (even though it’s not unique).
Unfortunately, this movie didn’t live up to the hype in any way, and I can’t recommend it as worth your time or money.
My main criticism of the film is in its protagonist (a role that inexplicably shifts to a different character in the last several minutes of the film, putting its lack of narrative focus on full display), played by Emily Blunt. I have no problem with Emily Blunt as an actress, but as the leader of a tactical team doing drug interdiction for the FBI, she lacked a great deal to be desired. Everybody wants strong, confident women roles in movies, but nobody wants to acknowledge the gigantic suspension of disbelief that’s required to maintain the polite fiction that a fit 5’7″, 100 lb woman can be at least as physically competent as a fit, 6’1″, 210 lb man. It’s ludicrous and did the film no favors.
That aside, what made things worse was that she was a complete incompetent in addition to being a moral coward. At no point did she make a decision during the film’s events that redounded positively to her character. When she wasn’t whining about not knowing what was going on, she was defying orders, pulling guns on her colleagues, and getting herself in more trouble than she could handle on her own. Not since Inspector Clouseau has a law enforcement officer been so bumblingly portrayed, though at least Peter Sellers was hysterically funny and managed to solve the case on his own. As a cipher, lacking personality or judgment, she failed to give the viewer the chance to identify with her even a little bit.
Josh Brolin and his flip-flops wasn’t as charming as he was supposed to be. Daniel Kaluuya had a horribly thankless role as the gay black friend/colleague who probably wasn’t gay. And Benicio Del Toro was tragically wasted, relegated to occasional grunting and mumbling (which isn’t unusual, but in this role, he did even fewer grunts and mumbles than normal).
The scenes with the corrupt cop did nothing to advance story or tension, and should have been left for a future Director’s Cut.
I know everybody works very hard in the movie business, and I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews, but I was not only disappointed in this film, but cheated out of a not-inconsiderable amount of money to see it. Avoid at all costs.