In yesterday’s post I dumped all over Woody Allen’s latest film, which I saw last night. In the interest of cinematic fairness and balance, I want to give a shout out to this first-rate thriller by French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, which I saw three nights ago. If one doesn’t know by now—as the pic opened in the US last month to wide release—it’s about Mexican drug cartels and US law enforcement, set in Arizona, Texas, and across the border in Mexico (sicario means ‘hitman’ in Mexican drug cartel slang). It’s high-octane, edge-of-your-seat, with one great set piece after another, and excellent acting: Emily Blunt is terrific as straight arrow FBI agent Kate Macer—she should receive at least an Oscar nomination for her performance—Benicio del Toro as the shadowy killer Alejandro, who works with the Americans (and for himself); and Josh Rogin as the equally shadowy secret agent Matt Graver (CIA? who knows?). And the pic has no significant flaws, except for maybe the traffic jam scene at the border (isn’t there a VIP lane on that bridge?). There have been a number of Mexican drug cartel movies over the years—some quite good (e.g. Miss Bala)—and that graphically depict the violence and cruelty of the Mexican gangs—whom ISIS has nothing over when it comes to this—but this one is much the best, as it also has an implicit political theme: of the lawless behavior of the US government and its agents as they pursue the (endless, impossible) war against the drug cartels. It’s not par hasard that several of the badass US agents served in Iraq, the link between the war over there and the one here being made more than once. As the cynical Matt Graver informs the naïve Kate Macer, it’s a new world out there and with new rules, i.e. none really.
US reviews of the film are tops (81 on Metacritic; see, in particular, the ones by Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter and Scott Foundas in Variety), as well as in France (4.0/4.0 on Allociné). Trailer is here.
I saw and liked Villeneuve’s 2010 ‘Incendies’ but missed his last film, ‘Prisoners’. I think I should now see it.