Sicario was the best movie of 2015.
That is obviously not an opinion shared by many major awards judges, as reflected in its relatively poor showing in nominations for this year’s major cinema awards (although it has got three nods for Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Editing). Neither is it reflected in its relatively quiet run at the box office (US$46.8 million in North America and US$33.7 million in other territories for a respectable worldwide total of US$80.5 million, against a budget of US$30 million) especially in comparison to some of the mega blockbusters that were released last year.
But for mind, despite Leo half freezing to death, The Martian being utterly hilarious (according to the morons at the Golden Globes), no-one having seen Bridge Of Spies but still loving Tom Hanks, and the rest of the lot, there was one clear winner in the film of the year category for 2015 despite an almost total and utter lack of buzz, and that was Denis Villeneuve‘s insanely intense thriller that tackled the ongoing War On Drugs and its affect on American crime and law enforcement.
The story of FBI SWAT team leader Kate Mercer (played brilliantly by Emily Blunt) who gets swept up into a murky undercover operation being carried out by a CIA team lead by The Dude-meets-frat boy asshole CIA agent Matt Graver (a perfect Josh Brolin) and the incredibly shady and menacing CIA contractor Alejandro Gillick (maybe Benicio Del Toro‘s best performance since The Usual Suspects) as they combat the Mexican drug cartels operating in and outside of the USA, the film might be the most white knuckle thriller in the pure sense of the metaphor than has ever been set on the big screen.
The tension and intensity of the film is literally breath-taking, as you find yourself savouring every last drop of oxygen in your lungs through entire sections of the story-line and gripping the stuffing through your chair arms in anticipation as to what’s about to happen next.
From it’s opening scene (one of the best opening sequences in a film in a long, long time), through to it’s on edge conclusion, Sicario is an unrelenting masterpiece of action and drama. And the memorable scenes are many – as well as the intro, there is a bridge shoot out, a terrifyingly claustrophobic night vision sequence (that strongly recalls Silence Of The Lambs), and one of the most cold blooded acts I’ve scene in a film since the likes of The Godfather and Scarface.
It is also an incredibly important film, giving a very real face to the realities of the War On Drugs, and how that affects the day-to-day lives of people that live in Mexico and particularly the city of Juarez, which sits on the border of the USA, but might as well be a universe away thanks to its horrific crime rate and violence.
Sicario might not be a big winner at the box office or with the Academy, but I guarantee this movie will grow to become a cult classic, and an important moment in American cinema. If she wasn’t already a star, it showcases just how strong a lead Emily Blunt has become. And Benicio Del Toro – well – he almost steals the show with one unnerving thrust of his groin. But every single moment, scene, character and line in this film works in unison to highlight that it doesn’t take insane budgets and ridiculous promo campaigns to make a film that is infinitely re-watchable, and just as memorable.
Sicario is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and iTunes.