Sicario isn’t terrible, but it is very disappointing as it never delivers on its promise.
The opening sequence of Sicario is of an FBI raid on a house they’ve tied to a notable drug dealer. However, the nature of what this house was being used for is far from what they were expecting. It’s a chilling sequence, and it’s great. Once that sequence is over you might as well stop watching the movie because nothing else comes close to being that good.
Sicario has a great cast: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin all do a great job with what they’re given. Denis Villeneuve’s last movie Prisoners is a dark thriller I really like, and he frames some very pretty shots here. It’s the script that really lets the movie down completely.
Theoretically, Emily Blunt is the star here, and I sure went into this movie excited to see her staring in a dark action thriller. After seeing her in Edge of Tomorrow I’m sure she can be the star of a great action movie or thriller. This isn’t it though. The problem is this story isn’t about her character at all. She’s the audience’s way in, but once we’re there her character is pointless, and the movie flails about to try and keep her involved. She’s not even in the climax of the move.
What they do with her is use her as the representation of rationality in an insane world. Much of the movie is spent making her feel helpless. Honestly, it gets kind of uncomfortable in a movie where she’s the only female character. She never gets an empowering moment, she’s constantly kept in the dark about the plot [Even when it’s painfully obvious what’s going on], and just gets shit on over and over. She’s there only for procedural reasons, even though at the end of the day, nobody gives a shit about procedure.
For a movie that wants to be dark and serious and be about the hopelessness of reason in an insane world, this script sure is dumb. It has no faith in the audience, constantly repeating things, and just hammering home things that were clear before it explained them the first time. There is a scene where Blunt’s partner yells at Del Toro and Brolin to tell them what’s going on, and not only was it already clear, but the characters still don’t really get it. It’s insufferable if you have even a basic understanding of the language of movies. It feels like the script was rewritten by a focus group. Even worse, the entire movie feels like a contrivance to get to the cool looking shots Villeneuve wanted to get to.
This movie is thin, there isn’t enough plot here for an episode of NCIS. I didn’t hate my time with it, but it is a waste of the talent involved. When it comes to streaming services, watch that opening sequence, because it is actually great, but you can turn it off after that. There are plenty of better thrillers.