TIFF Report: Sicario

Who’s in it: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro

Who’s behind it: Directed by Denis Villeneuve, written by Taylor Sheridan

Who’ll love it: Fans of high stakes, multi-layered drama with an unapologetic seriousness of purpose. Think Breaking Bad—with less humour and more gruesome violence.

What it’s about: When an effort to recover hostages goes terribly wrong, FBI agent Kate Macer (Blunt) is convinced to join a top secret inter-agency task force lead by a pair of mysterious government operatives (Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro). Still not entirely sure what she’s doing there, Macer joins them in a series of deadly visits to Mexico to investigate illegal drug activity. As they close in on an infamous drug lord, the idealistic Macer is shocked to discover troubling new layers of corruption, and considers taking a stand—if she lives that long.

Why you should see it: Canadian director Denis Villeneuve builds on the success of 2013’s Prisoners with another harrowing tale of damaged people plunging ever deeper into darkness. Combining the exhaustive research of Traffic with the procedural precision of Zero Dark Thirty, Villeneuve delivers a raw authenticity that makes other action movies look silly by comparison. In the film’s opening moments, we are given reason to believe that depraved new strains of criminality are lurking behind every corner, and the film only confirms those suspicions—to startling, unnerving effect. While Sicario’s dramatic shape isn’t altogether satisfying, it contains no fewer than five powerhouse set pieces, each delivering suspense, dread, and a directorial virtuosity that is almost unheard of in modern movies. Essential viewing from Canada’s most cinematic filmmaker.

When you can see it: Friday, September 11 at 10pm (Princess of Wales); Saturday, September 12 at 11am (Elgin/Winter Garden Theatres Visa Screening Room). Tickets available here. Opens wide October 2.

Watch the trailer here, and check out the poster below: