What if Sicario, meaning hitman in Spanish, describes both heroes and villains?

SicarioAs hard as it is to believe, Director Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario is even more dark and brooding than Black Mass. Villeneuve shines his camera at the drug wars taking place on the Mexican/American border, and the film forces the viewer to embrace an environment that resembles Dante’s “Seventh Ring of Hell”.

Emily Blunt gives a towering performances as FBI agent Kate Macer. Assigned to a special CIA task force focusing on Mexican drug cartels, she is a dedicated law enforcement officer who proves she is willing to put her life on the line. Central to this provocative movie’s theme, she is appalled by our own government’s willingness to violate the law in order to enforce it.

The squad she joins is led by Matt Graver, played in a sarcastically compelling fashion by Josh Brolin. Needing her on his force for reasons that soon become apparent, Brolin treats her commitment to truth, justice and the American way as both amusing and a reflection of her naiveté.

And then there is Benicio Del Toro in a staggering performance as Alejandro, a complicated South American member of the CIA’s force with a background that proves to be shocking. Del Toro gives a performance that is both sympathetic and horrifying, and his role in eliminating a pair of drug kingpins is as emotionally mind numbing as anything you will see on the screen this year.

Sicario is not for the weak of heart, nor is it intended to be. Ms. Blunt suffers some brutal treatment, and her performance resembles that of Charlize Theron in this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Both were pursued by heartless villains who recognize no rules, moral or legal, and they were faced with applying the same standards if they and their cause was to survive.

This film leaves a shocking message that resembles what the U.S. did to Iraq by removing Saddam Hussein. Iraq and the Middle East have been in turmoil since that time, as have the drug cartels since we helped to demolish the Medellín Cartel by removing Pablo Escobar as its leader. The point is that terrorists have risen to power in and around Syria since as they have been controlling the drug trafficking on our Southern border. People are beheaded with glee in Syria while over 40 college students remain missing and presumed dead in Northern Mexico.

After watching this film you wonder if we shouldn’t approach the whole issue of cocaine the way we do cigarettes. Understanding that millions are going to use both regardless of national policy, why don’t we do what we can to discourage it while making sure that violence is eliminated in its production? How will we be any worse off?