Sicario (2015) – A Movie Review

Sicario is about a United States law enforcement team’s efforts to capture the head of a Mexican drug cartel.

(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)

Kate Macer (played by Emily Blunt) and Reggie Wayne are FBI agents who discover a cartel safe house in Arizona filled with corpses.  They become drawn into a task force headed by CIA Operative Matt Graver (played by Josh Brolin).  But also involved is a Mexican national, Alejandro Gillick (played by Benicio del Toro) whose precise role is unexplained.

The task force heads into Juarez, Mexico to bring into US custody Guillermo Diaz whose brother Manuel is a lieutenant in the Sonora cartel.  During the return drive a contingent of cartel foot soldiers attempts an ambush but is overwhelmed by the special forces soldiers assigned to the task force.  But Macer is troubled by the unorthodox and secretive aspects of the operation.  She surmises that Gillick is not a legitimate law enforcement agent and she suspects that the operation is really a CIA hit squad that will be violating US laws by operating in the United States.

Macer and Wayne meet a local policeman they know named Ted in a bar.  She invites Ted into her room but she discovers he’s on the cartel payroll and attempts to arrest him.  He overpowers and begins to strangle her.  But Gillick appears in the nick of time and after some “persuasion” Ted provides the task force with the names of the other American policemen on the cartel payroll.

The “interrogation” of Guillermo reveals that a tunnel is used by the Sonora Cartel and a mission is planned to capture Manuel Diaz there.  During the operation Macer witnesses Gillick executing Mexican nationals and taking a cartel-owned Mexican federale as prisoner.  When she attempts to stop him, he shoots her twice on her body armor and warns her to never point a gun at him again.

Macer is outraged by Gillick’s actions but when she complains to Graver, he warns her that the war against the drug cartels had become a real war and the CIA uses extreme tactics.  He also tells her that Gillick’s wife and daughter were executed in a horrible manner by Manuel Diaz’s boss, Fausto Alarcón.  Gillick is intent on revenging himself on Alarcón and Graver intends to use this revenge to accomplish the destruction of the Sonora Cartel.

And that’s exactly what Gillick does.  He uses the captured Mexican policeman to pull over Manuel Diaz’s car and then he uses Diaz to get himself into Alarcón’s guarded compound.  Finally he finds Alarcón eating dinner with his wife and young children.  Gillick talks about the murder of his family and then murders Alarcón’s family.  After a decent interval for his victim to suffer the loss, he shoots him too.

Sometime after this mission Gillick sneaks into Macer’s apartment and at gunpoint he orders her to sign a document confirming that Gillick’s team had followed all US laws during its mission.  At first, she refuses but when he puts the gun to her head, he tells her that to refuse would be to commit suicide.  She signs the paper.  He tells her to find a small town to live in where the law still exists.  He says, “This is a land of wolves and the wolves will kill you.”  Or something like that.

Gillick leaves and when he is across the street she comes out on her balcony with a gun.  Gillick turns to her to give her the shot but she lowers her gun and he walks away.

This movie has several problems.  The biggest one is the actress playing Macer.  She probably weighs seventy pounds sopping wet but she’s part of an assault team taking down narcotrafficantes left and right.  It’s patently absurd.  Next, the episode with Ted, the rogue cop is too contrived.  Also, Macer seems at the same time drawn to this highly unorthodox mission but also shocked to see commando operations used against foreign nationals attacking the United States.  But putting all those things aside, this is a very exciting action film.  The acting and action are highly entertaining and the plot resolution is satisfying.  I highly recommend this movie to fans of action films.