by Yo Snyder

Sicario has a brief textual introduction that caught me off guard but does a fantastic job of framing the movie:  Sicario comes from the Hebrew word Sicarii which describes a splinter group of Jewish Zealots during the first century that fought against their Roman oppressors (and upon further research are thought to be the first assassination society and first cloak and dagger users).  The movie opens with a graphic scene of cartel violence and the extremes the cartels will go to in order to defend their drug trade.  This introduces the dilemma the US faces with combatting Mexican cartels in the drug trade while adhering to US laws.  Emily Blunt does an excellent job of playing an FBI officer caught up in the cartel violence and handpicked to be part of a special task force set up to do some serious damage to the cartels currently in power.  We develop sympathy for her character throughout the film as she balances the legalities of US law against a desire to see those in power punished for their crimes.  Ultimately, this dilemma captures the essence of the film and will leave the viewer considering the politics of the current drug war. 

As I mentioned, the opening scene does an excellent job of framing the movie.  Ultimately, a Sicario is used in a very unconventional way to achieve the goals of the elite task force.  This is what set the movie apart for me from other drug movies.  How the task force goes about achieving their goals of doing some real damage to the Mexican cartel is both sickening and refreshing – again playing off a balance of what is legal and what is necessary to combat such extreme violence.  The purpose for their course of action both built sympathy and frustration at the same time and those contrasting feelings develop throughout the movie.  I enjoyed the conflicting emotions and by the final scene, I was tipping towards one side and when you see what Emily Blunt endures in this final scene you will likely be feeling the same way.

Another emotion that developed during the film that was not as welcome was a sense of dread at just how bad our society has gotten over the past 20 years.  I can remember trips to Juarez as a youth that never felt dangerous or particularly threatening.  Now it’s almost non-existent to simply pay Mexico a short vacation visit and pick up some inexpensive souvenirs just over the border.  To see such atrocities played out on the screen may leave the viewer wondering if we will ever feel safe in the future.  Some may even question decisions to bring children into such a dark future.  In times like these, it’s a good thing to remind ourselves that scripture holds a promise of a better future and encourages us not to worry about our days and future.  God will care for his children as he does all of creation.  We also know from scripture that things will get worse, especially for believers who will see increased persecution.  Thankfully we can rest in the promises of scripture and give our worry to God and trust in him with our future.  When we see such films as Sicario showing graphically how bad society around us can be, its good to remind ourselves of the promises in scripture.

6 out of 7
Sicario is a very well-constructed movie that does an excellent job of building conflicting emotions in the viewer.  The movie is rated-R for some graphic scenes of violence and harsh language.  I recommend avoiding this one if you find yourself susceptible to fear or anxiety do to violence.