As children, we learn that we have to color inside the lines, that in fairy tales there is only right and wrong, and that the world consists of contradictions: Black / White. As you get older you start to realise life is not so simple, that nuance exists and there is always another side to a story. Not everyone always takes the time to look into the nuance because it makes it easier to form an opinion about something or to make a judgment.
This also applies to the law. Of course a judge looks at the facts of a case and decides if something is right or wrong. But what do you as a police unit against an enemy who is able to do anything and has more money, people and weapons available than you? Should you still have to follow the rules when you see that you won’t be able to win that way?
In Sicario, the latest film from director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoners , Enemy), revolves around that question. Kate Macer ( Emily Blunt ) works as an FBI agent on kidnapping cases along the border between America and Mexico. It means she encounters many drug related cases, and although she is successful in her work, she sees little change. She is asked by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to join a team that intends to capture one of the leaders of a Mexican cartel. She feels that joining might have more impact than the work she currently does and accepts. She is pulled into an unknown and extremely dangerous world, which will put her values and standards to the test.
With his previous movies Denis Villeneuve has proven that he is a master at creating tension and showing complex characters and Sicario is no exception. The characters, even someone minor like a Mexican policeman, get enough screen time in order for you get to know them better, understand what their motivation is and comprehend why some of them do not immediately share all the information with others.
Due to the excellent acting of Emily Blunt, who is just as shocked as the viewer will be, you care for her as the events unfold and discover the nuances of the fight against the drug cartels. It means that the American authorities do not always abide by the rules to achieve their goal, much to the dismay of protagonist Kate. Benicio del Toro is also a pleasure to watch, as the mysterious Alejandro, who seems to have everything under control and is not afraid to take extreme steps to get his information, even if that may not always be entirely legal. With its tense atmosphere and constant feeling of danger Sicario is a film that gets under your skin and where the instinct to survive is triggered. And that occasionally means that you have to color outside the lines.