Reviewed by: Jeremy Landes
war on illegal drugs
U.S. Mexico border problems
pushing ethical and moral values to the limit
How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
Emily Blunt … Kate Macer
Benicio Del Toro … Alejandro
Josh Brolin … Matt
Jon Bernthal … Ted
Jeffrey Donovan … Steve Forsing
Victor Garber … Jennings
Raoul Trujillo … Rafael
Maximiliano Hernández … Silvio
See all »
|Director||Denis Villeneuve—“Prisoners” (2013)|
Black Label Media
Thunder Road Pictures
Sequel: “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” (2018)
Thousands of people have been murdered because of Mexican drug cartels, so any movie portraying what is happening around U.S. borders is necessarily going to be violent. The filmmakers behind “Sicario” took this crisis as a springboard to craft an outlandish plot showing U.S. Government officials and armed forces engaged in crimes of retaliation to show their strength in a war against certain drug dealers they don’t support. The result is one of the most intense, violent films I have ever seen, and I couldn’t imagine recommending it—even though I have to admit the filmmaking quality (cinematography, sound design) earns four stars.
There’s “necessary violence” in war films or movies depicting true events like “Saving Private Ryan” or “Dances with Wolves,” where glossing over historical violence would be wrong, and then there’s “excessive violence,” where filmmakers have imagined some terrible deeds and ask audiences to revel in them. I don’t believe any critic/reviewer should ruin movie endings, and some people might consider the following information to be a “spoiler,” so here’s your warning, if you don’t want to read the rest of this paragraph… the film crossed very far over my “excessive violence” line when a major character who’s supposed to have been fighting with the Americans is set loose to invade the home of a cartel leader and then proceeds to murder the man’s two young sons and wife at their dinner table, so he can watch the father suffer loss before shooting him, too. Just before he shoots the kids and crying wife, he says, “Time to go be with God.”
I don’t care that this fictional killer’s family also suffered horrific violence in the past. For me, this didn’t justify the revenge he carried out and then gets away with. I can go my whole life without watching families being slaughtered—even if actual families are caught in the crossfire because of cartel activity. I could go on and outline the plot in detail for you, but it’s full of more horror, and I fear that could even entice some readers to buy tickets. I advise against this, because there’s some scenes that are hard to get out of your head.
I understand that the film’s major character and moral center, Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), doesn’t advocate the torture and murderous activity conducted by her co-workers in law enforcement. She keeps talking about how opposed she is to all the killings she witnesses, but her gripes are finally silenced, and revenge wins.
I know why the filmmakers who invested time and money producing “Sicario” believed that many Americans would pay millions to see some Mexican drug dealers and children suffer. Perhaps this review will help cause some of their profit hopes to die.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.