Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Le5qET3I refused to review the second season of “True Detective” because I found the entire season to be an exercise in tedium (and because many others were crushing it with perfect prose). The show was all over the place and infuriating. I kept waiting for a “there” to be there…and as “Sicario” unfolded, I’m sure I audibly muttered…why didn’t they make THIS in to a season of “TD”?!

“Sicario” is an excellent thriller that is ever so close to being great. The cast is uniformly superb. Josh Brolin is excellent as the witty, curmudgeonly authority figure – a role that, until not that long ago, belonged exclusively to Tommy Lee Jones. Del Toro is his usual, quiet, simmering self. The action is taut and properly anxiety-inducing. The world of the film is a place we know very little about (assuming those of you reading this are not Mexican nationals – or have not seen the Mexican film “Heli”), so every scene feels original. And, as ever, Johan Johannson’s score is outstanding and sparse…eerily evoking David Bowie’s “Sense of Doubt,” from his Berlin-era album “Heroes.”

All good…except for one major problem that, alas, left me both confused and let down…and wishing it HAD been a series instead of a film. Villeneuve, whose direction is otherwise superb, literally reassigns the protagonist of the film in the middle of the third act – and then semi-switches back during the coda. His reasons for doing so are innocent enough…to complete the story…but I found it jarring as hell. And as a result, I can’t tell you whose viewpoint I’m supposed to be left with. I think it was a major disservice to Ms. Blunt, who is very, very good.

That notable directorial flaw aside, this is a film WELL worth seeing. As far as I’m concerned, any Hollywood-produced movie as intelligent and original as “Sicario” should be rewarded by a collective attendance.

(no trailer…avoid it…too many spoilers)

Written 09/22/2015

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