FBI agent Kate Macer (Blunt) operates by the rules. When she loses two men in a drug raid, she becomes determined to find the leaders of a Mexican drug cartel who were responsible for the gruesome crime. Volunteering for a special task force led by Matt Graver (Brolin) and his shadowy partner Alejandro (Del Toro), Kate is drawn into a dangerous game, where her sense of morality is pitted against the basest human impulses.
Canadian director Villeneuve tackles a morass of murky ethics in a taut actioner that sheds piercing light on the enormity of the drug trade and the ineffectual power struggles to dismantle it. Del Toro, as the sinister “sicario” (hitman) of the title, stands out in this gritty ensemble piece with a performance of quiet intensity. Roger Deakins’ skilled cinematography puts us right in the center of the action, ratcheting up the suspense. Tense set pieces, including a true Mexican standoff on a busy bridge, provide a white-knuckle ride from start to finish.