Sicario

(MA15+) Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin

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 may be no end to this war. Afterwards, in what appears to be a debrief, 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 their methods of initiating justice are beyond her comfort level and, initially, she wants out. Yet, seeing the opportunity to inflict justice on criminal leaders keeps her aboard 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 all of the powerful parties 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 credible glimpse into this ongoing fight through a well-crafted script, stellar performances from the lead actors and unsettling cinematography that provides a sweltering feel. He applies the appropriate pressure to effectively communicate this story with a disturbing, realistic style showing 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 storytelling, he exposes the ethical dilemmas that occur throughout the various roles of law enforcement. Also, various subplots show 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 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 point in the plot there is an underlying message about there being no moral absolutes. The central characters of Sicario must determine how 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 people have to live without belief in truth. The Bible reveals how hope and truth 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)

 

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger

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