Sicario, we are told in an opening placard of the movie by that name, comes from the Latin for “dagger”. The Latin word sicarius, or “dagger man”, described the Jewish zealots who engaged in terrorist activities against the occupying Roman armies in Palestine in the first century AD. In Spanish today, it apparently means “hitman”. Benicio del Toro is el sicario in this movie, though he is never called that, and we don’t even know who he is until very late in the film. But Sicario is his film in every way.

Emily Blunt is the purported star of the movie; she appears in almost every frame. But del Toro provides all the interesting elements of this brilliant crime thriller about the drug war and how we should fight it. His moody silence erupting in violent outbursts on just the right occasions provides the texture for the film, and, if I said much what those outbursts were, it would necessitate an unconscionable spoiler or two. I don’t want to do that for anyone who wants to see this film.

So let me just say that the movie is bloody, tough and chaotic, just like the trade and the opposition it defines. Blunt is good, though used as something of a foil for the real stars of the movie, del Toro and to a lesser degree, Josh Brolin. The premise? Until the billions of dollars worth of cocaine dries up because no one uses it any more, the only way to fight the drug trade between Mexico and the U.S. is to create as much chaos in the links between production in Mexico and distribution in the U.S. as possible. Del Toro certainly does that. See it if you want a grisly, demanding, real-world insight into a world you never want to encounter in reality.

Having promoted it, let me also register another complaint from a Christian perspective. Movies—and Sicario is among them—are increasingly affirming revenge as a just and reasonable course of action. Christianity never allows for that from humans. Revenge is God’s and His alone, for only He can really see into the human heart clearly enough to act retributively. The rest of us need the law. Without it, we all descend into the very chaos Brolin and del Toro’s characters seem to embrace all too strongly, against the pleas for law from Blunt. The movie raises this question well, so see it, but it clearly sides with the sicario.

Drew Trotter

November 23, 2015

No Comments

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.