SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sicario, not unlike its translation into "hitman", revolves around the act of stealth and the aura of tension it creates. Denis Villeneuve, teaming up again with master DP Roger Deakins, conjures up images of supreme darkness, but the true accomplishment comes not from horror within the now but from the foreboding blare of escalating dread.
It's nothing less than a sublime concoction, but one that decays as soon as familiarity is presented. With Deakins' soul-searing cinematography, Johann Johannsson's heart-exploding score, and Villeneuve's tracking mindset of "firecracker" pops and splattering eruption; Sicario is an experience that will enthrall any fan of artfully presented gloom, but its subtext and interconnected view of political systems will be even harder to shake.
Emily Blunt, "starring" as Kate Macer, isn't so much a protagonist as she is an entrance point into a world of clustered corruption. Her view, as tough, determined, and strong-willed as it is, doesn't even cross paths with a world of fevered revenge. She's looking from the outside in, but instead of peering through a window, Macer has to shoot her way through the walls in order to even catch a glimpse of menace. It's The Silence of the Lambs without a Hannibal Lecter, and it's glorious to dissect.
In spite of its quite radical view on corruption and the law-abiding officers who trudge through the mud, nothing in Sicario sizzles more than Villeneuve's flawless construction of tension. His mastery of visual eeriness is evident from the iconic (in my mind at least) opening sequence, and it allows for sweaty-palmed suspense to appear when it's least expected.
Never has a film kept me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning, but Sicario grabbed my throat and sparingly let me come up for air. In the past, Villeneuve has struggled with the puzzle-piece variations of his plots, but Sicario proves that visionaries stem from every area of the cinematic landscape. It's a modern classic from a genuine talent.