The border is just another line to cross.

Certainly a surprise film of the year, Sicario delves into the sensitive subject of the escalating war against drugs that have become a daily occurrence for those near the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

A member of the kidnapping division in Arizona, Kate (Emily Blunt) is brought into a special operations unit funded by the Department of Defense after a devastating and jarring blow to her team. Immediately whisked away on a mission; Kate observes with an outsider’s eyes the happenings of this covert unit, the sole woman amongst men. Thrust into the deadly and brutal world of the drug cartels of Juarez Mexico, Kate realizes that her idealism has no place as her new assigned unveils itself as far from ethical. With fresh eyes and a purist’s motivation, Kate must make her own judgments of trust if she wants to stay alive during this dangerous operation.

Sicario is a film I wasn’t expecting. The military-oriented subject matter is not normally my forte and the trailer for the film felt generic.  Alas, quickly the praising whispers for the film grew too loud to ignore and right they were. Sicario is a film that commands your attention with its barbaric violence, brutally realistic point of view and its astonishing cinematography.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Taylor Sheridan, the film decisively sets the tone within seconds of opening, readying the audience for what they are about to see. Sicario is a film that jolts you with unease, telling you to forget whatever expectations you may have.  It is about far more than the mission Kate embarks upon with the DoD, and its ability to harmoniously tell its complexly layered story is a testament to its success.

The best word to describe Sicario is ‘intense.’ It is jarring, disorienting, and raw.   Sicario easily could have been a basic thriller with a military shoot ‘em up component. In having Villeneuve direct, the film’s subtle points are brought to the forefront. Each character is multidimensional and each moment a scene to be watched, within it the plot nuances that lesser films so often forget. The protagonist Kate especially has a marvelous arc throughout the film that matches the audience member’s own experience and grounds you further to be completely engaged with the film.

May you remember the film years from now? Perhaps not, but for those looking for a worthy film to entertain with a little bit for everyone to enjoy, Sicario is certainly it.