The border is just another line to cross.
I've been playing a decent amount of that newer Ghost Recon game, and it may have influenced my choice of movie for the week. See, that game is all about taking down cartels, which is a similar pitch I've heard for Sicario. A buddy of mine actually reviewed it a while back and that also told me that it should be pretty good to boot. So, having my safety net of "This should be good" cast out in expectations, let's see if this movie can live up to it.
This movie is a bit of a strange one. At first, even though a couple lines of text all but spell out what will become obvious, we find our lady cop to be our main character. Indeed, it would appear that a good chunk of this movie is centered almost directly around her, so that would be as good a bet as any - even though she's far from being some sort of hitman. Her threads are strewn with confusion and a hectic lack of knowing what's going on, as though it was a spy movie. Of course, the main difference between it and a spy movie is that the spy movie works on misdirects and multiple layering, whereas here we find ourselves stuck in a similar position along with our lead lady of just not really being told the full briefing of whats going on.
Of course, her's is a bit of cop story. She starts off with some nice tense house-breaching action with her unit, only to be escalated into "joint operations team" when she voluntarily joins the fight against the cartels to get the person responsible for the absolute carnage hiding within the walls of the place she just raided - as well as the bomb that injured or killed some of the cops checking the place out. It isn't too long in that we start being shown little installments of a story involving a Mexican cop - much to our wonderment, and indeed after a few episodes of this it quickly becomes wondering when they are going to get to the point that it's relevant at all to our story being told. Despite all this and these characters floating around on screen however, it's not till the final act that we figure out that this movie was actually much more about someone else in a way.
The story is a good point for me to start out with some balancing of the scale. The fact that we don't know whats going on any more than the lead does will inevitably be annoying to some due to it's chaotic nature, but believe it or not I feel that it's rather much a positive for this movie. It helps keep that chaos in there, and the movie does have chaos at it's core so it helps the experience by doing so. On the other hand of that we have many scenes that are rather slow and can feel a bit drawn out at times (such as the first flight and a couple scenery montages sections), which in turn lend portions of the movie a very "padded" feeling. A little respite from the action and tension isn't bad - and certainly at times the slower moments can help add to the tension, but a little trimming still doesn't feel like it would have been terrible. The entire side story featuring the cop also feels almost completely irrelevant, serving only for the purpose of humanizing the cop so you can try to attach yourself to him for when he finally crosses into the main plot line - but at that point he's such a small character that's seemed so insignificant it's hard to muster any more emotion for him than if they simply showed him leaving his family to go to work.
There are actually only a few action scenes in this movie - and most are pretty concise and to the point as far as the action goes. If you wanted to watch this movie for the purpose of getting some Commando style craziness or a more realistic military romp, you may find themselves rather disappointed. What's there is shot nicely, complete with some amusing camera maneuvers during the convoy scene and usage of some filters for night vision and thermal cameras during the tunnel scene. It's not too cut heavy - using them as it sees fit but not so much that it makes you nauseous.
Costume design is what you'd expect in a movie like this - your casual attires as well as your military and SWAT gear load outs. Some details are payed attention to - such as the ballistic plates in plate carriers, which usually in movies just gets relegated to magical ballistic vests. The costume department does a fine job in pulling off these looks, even if a good portion of things looks like modern clothes. In the same vein, the effects department delivers what they need to without showing off too much. Muzzle flashes, blood when necessary, the before mentioned optical effects, all the things you would expect to see are in there and come off as decent or good quality.
The actors do a great job of conveying their roles here too. The lines mostly all come across finely understandable, and you do feel that there's some sort of chemistry between Blunt and her partner as though they've been working together for some time. The soundtrack is actually incredibly minimalistic, with hardly anything really recognizable as a song outside of a bar scene. This isn't to say there is no music at all - it actually uses some music that works great for building tension, sounding like some sort of hybrid mix of something from Terminator and The Thing.
Overall, it's a pretty good movie if your okay with a bit of a slow tempo with a few tight tension-based action scene. Actors do a good job, and the movie has loads to say about the entire cartel situation and the actions taken about it if you want to delve into it. It's put together nicely, although there are still some rooms for improvement in my mind. It's got an emotional edge for it's characters, and it doesn't tend to pull back to hard on the reigns as it plays out it's events. Although not for everybody, it's certainly still a pretty good flick.