Emily Blunt delivers a brilliant performance as a straight-arrow FBI agent whose eyes are opened to the murky realities of the war on drugs in Sicario, a queasily gripping thriller from Denis Villeneuve, director of the similarly unsettling Prisoners and Enemy.
Recruited to a secret government task force, her character is the film’s moral compass and the audience’s viewpoint as the team – led by Josh Brolin’s deceptively laid-back, flip-flop-wearing agent – criss-crosses the US-Mexico border in the hunt for an elusive drug cartel kingpin, blurring ethical lines as they go.
Along the way there is a brutally tense ambush at the Juarez/El Paso border crossing and a chilling nocturnal raid on a tunnel beneath the border, strikingly filmed using night vision and thermal imaging cameras.
These standout scenes pack a punch, but it’s the film’s pervading sense of dread and unease – enhanced by Roger Deakins’ sublime cinematography and Jóhan Jóhansson’s skin-prickling score – that keeps us on edge throughout, as does the presence of Benicio Del Toro’s troublingly enigmatic advisor, the mysterious foil to Blunt’s doggedly upright yet all too vulnerable heroine.
Certificate 15. Runtime 116 mins. Director Denis Villeneuve
Sicario is released on Blu-ray & DVD by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.