With so much fun fall TV, I’ve neglected my local theater and fallen behind on new films.  The end of summer is always slow at the box office, and then suddenly festival season picks up and we’re off again with great fall and winter films, leading up to award season in January and February.  I had a chance to catch up this week, and first on my list was Sicario.

I can’t say enough about this well-written, wonderfully crafted film.  Emily Blunt plays a FBI agent who’s recruited to work for a government task force that she knows very little about, except that it’s dedicated to eliminating one of the drug cartels in Mexico.  I hesitate to tell you anything more than “Sicario” is Spanish for “hit man”, because I think the less you know about it going in, the more you’ll enjoy it.  I expected this movie to be a powerful one, raising a lot of questions on how we keep our borders safe on both sides, but it’s also a great action thriller.  An extraction scene from Juarez back into the U.S. is one of the most nerve-wracking I’ve ever experienced in a film, and the score masterfully builds a sense of dread and suspense.

The entire cast is at the top of their game, especially Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro.  Blunt is already getting much-deserved Oscar buzz for her role, but I believe Del Toro is just as worthy–he gives an incredibly chilling performance that won’t leave me anytime soon.  There are a lot of disturbing images that stayed with me for days after I saw the movie, but they didn’t feel gratuitous or non-essential to the plot.  To give you an idea of how disturbing, the Mayor of the city of Juarez is calling for a boycott of the film.

There is also a scene at the end of the film that struck me.  Children in a Mexican town near the border (it’s unclear if it’s Juarez) are playing soccer while their parents cheer from the sidelines.  Shots ring out in the distance and parents pause for a moment, but then turn back to the game once it registers that the shots aren’t that close and have stopped.  I thought of the safety we take for granted in the majority of this country, and of all the upper and middle class “soccer moms” on the sidelines that will never have to experience moments like this.  The glaring difference between these two worlds really hit me in that moment.  And then I remembered the current state of gun violence in our country.

The trailer doesn’t begin to do it justice, but if you want to know more about the film, here’s a preview.   This is definitely one to see in the theater.


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