Michael Pattison’s review published on Letterboxd:
If you read Estonian, here's my review from October 2015.
The convoy-into-Juarez sequence, culminating in the border shootout, might be my favourite in any film of the current decade. The helicopter shot, of the tailback traffic going into the US and the convoy racing into Mexico, was the point at which I knew I was watching a great film when I first saw it on the big screen: the undercurrent of dread, of something about to escalate, of actions irredeemable... Positioning a camera on the back of one of the Mexican vehicles that provide security to the convoy once it's across the border, and the cutting back and forth from simultaneously nonchalant and ruthless military types to Kate in the back seat, riding next to Alejandro—who she assumes is along for the ride as a consultant... Such urgency, such energy. Shot-to-shot, from the ground-level to strategically-timed aerial perspectives, it's one of those sequences that command one's eyes this way then that, as one tries to stay abreast of the spatial dynamics that inform the rising tension.
Jóhansson's score, a percussive crescendo with ominous hums, begins as early as that shot of Del Toro rolling up his suit jacket back at base—at a point in the film when we're still none the wiser as to who he is—and the shades Del Toro wears for the sequence in question double as a kind of veil, a kind of anti-Kuleshov device: what is happening, what is going to happen? It's magnificent: simultaneously persuasive, seductive, insidious, awful. When the men step out of their cars and Kate can only say, 'Jesus Christ.' And when the guns go off: 'What the fuck are we doing?' I find it incredibly moving.
It might be Del Toro's film, but this is Blunt's scene: an observer by choice and a participant by necessity, she is a by-the-book professional coming to the quick realisation that she's in over her head. Those shots, as she tries to keep a level head when the convoy speeds into action again: she conveys everything all at once and doesn't speak so much as a word.
(Writer Taylor Sheridan's debut feature as director, last year's Wind River, has a similarly tense, though very differently structured, standoff-shootout. I thought it was the highlight of that film.)