Josiah Morgan’s review published on Letterboxd:
If this wasn't so widely appreciated, or if I hated it maybe a little more, I'd be leaving my review at the word "ugh" because that's how I genuinely feel. But alas, that is not the case. So here.
Villeneuve has always excelled at visual exposition but the screenplay for Sicario only gives him room for intermittently stunning shots, mostly during action sequences or establishing shots - indeed the film is so weighted down by its dialogue that it feels like it never moves anywhere and whilst many events 'happen' as such, Villeneuve is not (and probably never will be) an action-oriented director. Sicario may be a bold and risky move, but it's certainly not one that pays off. Most criticisms seem to be leveled at the lead characters' passivity or are misdirected ruminations on gender roles in cinema but the most appalling mistake that Sicario makes is in the actual filmmaking being more passive than the character. I argue that the characters passive nature is conversely the most successful facet of the two-hour runtime, the issue here is that Villeneuve seems so indifferent to the material himself that we fail to become invested as well. Not only that, but this is at odds with itself and often feels confused about exactly what genre initiative it wants to take - dare I say it, but Sicario is just... boring?
Aside from the genuinely exciting opening ten minutes; the only other point of note is a stop-start, black-and-white midpoint. Whilst Villeneuve's direction is somewhat lacking (mostly just in the first half), his characteristically poignant editing once again works to further the emotional tone but none of this matters when the emotional tone is completely whack in the first place.