Sicario: The name for first century Jewish zealots who desired to eliminate their Roman invaders, but was later taken on within Latin American culture to mean assassin or hitman.
The life of an FBI agent on the US / Mexican border is a mixture of drug cartels and immigration law that never seems to come to an end. Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) leads a task force to find hostages who have been caught in the crossfire of this international legal battlefield. After an horrific situation on the job, she considers that there seems to be no end to this war. Afterwards, in what seems to be a debrief of the situation, she is given the opportunity to be part of a secretive task force that uses tactics to ‘dramatically overreact’ to the cartels and bring their leaders to justice. The unorthodox task force is lead by Matt (Josh Brolin), a CIA operative and includes the dark, enigmatic Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). They lead a mercenary troop to make noise and cause chaos against the seemingly insurmountable narcotic hoards. Kate realises that their methods of initiating justice are beyond her comfort level and initially wants out. Yet, seeing the opportunity to inflict justice on these criminal leaders keeps her on board until the mission is complete. An internal and external battle ensues for the FBI agent when she realises that the lines of ethics are blurred in achieving the results desired by the all of the governments involved.
Stories like Sicario that centre on law enforcement agencies and their challenges with drug lords continue to show that there are no clear winners in this war. It is a brilliantly portrayed drama, but carries with it the travesties that occur on this battleground.
Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) manages to provide a realistic glimpse into this continual fight through a well-crafted script, stellar performances from the lead actors and unsettling cinematography that provides the sweltering feel to the film. He manages to apply the appropriate pressure to effectively communicate this story with the disturbing realism. This realistic style shows that there are no winners on either side of this shadowy world. Villeneuve does not glorify the drug dealing or its usage, but shows that idealism may have to be compromised in the delivery of justice. Through effective story-telling he exposes the ethical dilemmas that occur throughout the various roles of law enforcement. Also, the subplots that are inner mixed throughout the film show that there is no such thing as a victimless crime when it comes to purchasing illegal drugs.
Sicario delivers a well told story that will leave audiences entertained, but will leave them unsettled by the message that lacks any ethical answers or hope.
This narcotic narrative provides a multitude of intersections with moral and ethical discussion points. At the heart of every plot point there is an underlying message that there are no moral absolutes. The central characters of Sicario have to live without the comfort of a clearly defined right and wrong, which proves to be exceptionally unsettling.
Outside the cinema, it is not a stretch to see that most of God’s good creation has been tainted with evil. Even with that reality, that does not mean that people have to live without belief in truth. The Bible allows for hope and truth to pervade throughout this lifetime and into eternity. Even though the plot of this film leaves little hope for this world, thankfully we do not have to live that way with God being involved in all aspects of this world.
Leaving the cinema…
This is a brilliant film, but it will not appeal to anyone with a weak constitution. The acting and direction are superb, but the heart of the story exists in a world without ethics or humanity and is exceptionally hopeless.
What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
1. Can we find truth in this world? (John 14:6, 1 Corinthians 13:4-6)
2. Can we ever find justice? (Proverbs 21:15, Romans 12:19)
3. Is revenge ever justified? (Romans 12:17-21, 1 Peter 3:9)
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