Suspense film is frightening realistic



Emily BLunt stars in "Sicario." (Richard Foreman Jr./Lionsgate)


Working on the Mexico-America border, idealistic FBI agents Kate Mercer (Emily Blunt) and Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) have done everything by the book; they were following standard procedures to take down malicious murders and drug traffickers. When they get the chance to join Special Agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and the mysterious Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) to take down a notorious drug lord, they eagerly join the team. But little does Kate know she may be in over her head; the deeper she gets into the world of the ongoing drug war, the darker things become.

From director Dennis Villenueve (“Prisoners,” “Enemy”) comes a tense, non-stop thriller. The progression of “Sicario” is like a coil, tightening and tightening, springing only as the credits roll, giving the audience a sigh of relief and after the two-hour runtime. If you have seen Villenueve’s other movies, then you already know what a master he is of tension and suspense.

Adding to the suspense is the minimal script and soundtrack. By minimal script, I mean the characters say only what needs to be said; there are no needless expositions or explaining how they feel. All of the underlying emotions are expressed wordlessly through the incredible talent of Blunt, Brolin and Del Toro. Why divulge the character’s feelings with excessive words when a look, an action or lack thereof vocalizes how the character feels? Del Torro steals the show in this aspect, as his character, Alejandro, always remains aloof and engaging, even after his backstory is revealed.

A large amount of “Sicario” happens without background music, which was used only when absolutely necessary. This silence adds a foreboding feeling as tensions build. When the score does come in, the music is ominous and ambient which adds to the pressure of the menace that could be lurking just outside of the shot. Using Kubrick-esque camera angles and shots, cinematographer Roger Deakins captures the ongoing tension visually, causing the audience to scan the background during wide-angled shots to look for any signs of danger.

One final aspect of the film that is very impressive is the subject matter. “Sicario” deals with the darkness and circumstance of the ongoing Mexican drug war in a mature matter. Violent, gruesome content is shown, but it’s never for the sake of violence. It’s all proving how serious and real these current events are.

There is a B-plot touched upon several times throughout the movie involving an assuming suburban Mexican family. It is a little misleading at first, but it wraps up in the end to drive home the point: the war has a ripple effect on countless lives. Masterfully made, surprisingly relevant and relentlessly engaging, “Sicario” is one of the best films of 2015.