[Spoilers] Fascinating and horrible events certainly, but it ultimately feels like the story of one man's revenge. The first fifteen minutes had promised so much more than this simplistic macho fare; a sweeping exploration of the drug war for all those affected, on both sides of the border. The only dramatically interesting parts are those with the Mexican cop, and the chilling final scene at the football game.
This was one of the best films of 2015. Everyone in this film is great and this film presents an intense look at the War on Drugs that is still waging. This film would make a really good double bill with Soderbergh's Traffic.
Dilution of responsibilities. He who takes illegal drugs is as responsible as any sicario for all the drugs related murders in Mexico, be he Martin Scorsese, Donald Trump or the junkie at the end of your street. The rest is Literature or Cinema. Great Villeneuve mise en scene for a pretty weak screenplay. Recommended though.
Essentially, 6 fantastic set pieces connected by a thin plot, fronted by characters in desperate need of fleshing out. So why 4 stars? Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins are Lennon & McCartney when it comes to creating atmosphere and tension - all those beautifully detailed slow burning build-ups. Their forthcoming 'Blade Runner' sequel suddenly doesn't look so risky.
The capacity for Villeneuve to put everything precisely in its right place is pretty much incredible. The imagery, the sounds, the music. The editing, the angles - what gets shown, what does not. You're put in there, with them, at the mexican-american border. It's claustrophobic. It's brilliant. It's like he's throwing punches at you. And he doesn't miss a single one.
A certain tendency in crime cinema nowadays seems to be that of two opposite forces somehow, absurdly, joining together. The positive force: calmness, stillness, flow. The negative force: anxiety, void, violence. Only in cinema can something like this work, making it all the more dangerous; where in the past it was used for revolution, or fascism, now it is used to promote long term apathy. Just my 1 cent.
The sense of dread and foreboding is absolutely overpowering. You feel as if no matter what is accomplished, there is impending doom around each corner. Zach Closs' description below basically captures my thoughts perfectly, so I won't repeat. The best I saw in 2015.