Emily Blunt has long been an actress capable of great depths of characterization from the recent Disney musical Into the Woods to genres of the indie sort with Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. However, nothing has quite gripped me with the same level of sobriety as Sicariodid, Blunt showcasing the true breadth of her talent.
Sicario surrounds the story of Kate Macer (Blunt), an FBI agent who has risen in rank amongst a vast majority of males. Being one of the only women in her task force, she has taken on an exterior of resilience and a lack of emotionality. Kate is offered a top assignment to which she doesn’t know the basis behind but is therefore whisked into the dangerously gripping world of the escalating war on drugs. The film encompasses a series of traveling across the Mexican/United States border to expose the repugnant nature of numerous cartel bosses and their ensuing counterparts. It is not devoid of its fair share of highly distressing images from hanging bodies off of bridges to the gruesome killing of small children.
I went into Sicario almost blind to the story except for knowing of underlying currents of FBI warfare against Mexican drug cartels. It is these types of movies that I typically enjoy most, a somewhat realistic depiction of clandestine violence, sometimes glorifying the feat of being in combat, and sometimes not. Sicario is of the latter, gracing a raw and humanized portrayal of reality at its most impotent level. That is perhaps what I found so interesting about it. The current era of violent films, driven by in large part by the Marvel franchise, have been overridden by a need to entertain as opposed to exposing the vapidity of evil. Director Denis Villenueve has said that his reason behind exploring this concept, was that “he wanted to explore how the notions of right and wrong can become blurred, challenging the concept of morality as a black-and-white principle.”
Sicario‘s opening scene was something out of a nightmare, a highly unsettling creation involving vomit, corpses buried in walls, and explosive bombs. It was enough to make me want to leave the theater right then and there. I have built up a tolerance to this sort of horrific rendering from watching a plethora of war films in the past, but this opening scene took me by immense surprise and it was the first time in awhile I almost couldn’t stomach forcing myself to watch. However, I’m glad I stuck it out as I was able to get a glimpse into a representation of violence that wasn’t made solely for the sake of entertainment value but rather to evoke an instinctual reaction in all of us. Violence has been driven largely in part by the introduction of video games and films extolling the grandiose virtues behind death. However, what most films have failed to do is represent the fact that violence is not something to champion but rather to reflect upon in its horribly abhorrent qualities. Sicario takes a step back and allows the audience to appreciate the pragmatism that accompanies brutality. In reality, as exemplified through recent mass shootings and wars occurring all over the world, it is clear that violence is horribly real and equally ugly in its attributes and, thus, it should not be considered entertainment.
By: Emily Larman