It’s been an absurdly long wait to see someone give Emily Blunt a part that takes full advantage of her talents. She’s outstripped the writing in everything from The Devil Wears Prada to Looper to Edge Of Tomorrow, but it’s only in Sicario that she finally gets a part that truly fits, that stretches and bends with her.
Blunt plays Kate, an FBI agent who leads a kidnap response unit. After an operation goes horribly wrong and she’s called in for a secret meeting with her bosses, Kate is expecting a dressing down. Instead she’s asked to join a covert operation to bring down a Mexican drug kingpin, alongside the cocky mission head Matt (Josh Brolin) and a quiet mystery named Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). Her new job takes her into a world she doesn’t know and moral territory she doesn’t understand.
Sicario is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who over his past four films – Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy, and now this – has shown such natural skill that he will surely one day soon be considered among the best of his generation. His next project will be Blade Runner 2, so his cross into the mainstream is coming. Villeneuve gives a masterclass in sustained tension here. Kate, our eyes on the world, is consistently being thrown into ever more terrifying situations, which she wants to make right without ever having a clear idea of exactly why they’re bad. We never know what’s coming because it is, deliberately, never clear what Kate’s mission is. She’s in a hell where the definition of justice is constantly shifting.
There’s plenty here to chew on as you consider whether the world is in such a state that solving problems by being ‘good’ is now just a naïve fantasy. There’s also a thriller wound so tight that you’ll probably need a lie down and a sizeable drink afterwards.