Drugs.  Whether to improve quality of life or for recreation, they can change lives. Behind the drugs, is the power to control lives.  Dennis Villenueve’s Sicario brilliantly explores the effects of that power.

Written by Taylor Sheridan (FX’s Sons of Anarchy), Sicario stars Emily Blunt as Kate Mercer, a Phoenix PD tactical officer.  Following a raid on a drop house, she is recruited to a federal task force led by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), charged with extraditing a low-level cartel enforcer back to the U.S. The strong supporting cast is rounded out by Victor Garber, Maximiliano Hernandez, Daniel Kaluuya and Jon Berenthal.

Sheridan’s strong script is bolstered by a powerhouse of actors, each delivering a solid performance.  Blunt’s Mercer is a bedrock of morality, while Brolin delivers the conviction needed to get things done.  The literal paradox is Del Toro’s Alejandro who just lights the screen up, complimenting Blunt and Brolin.  He delivers a charge that is very rarely seen in actors today.  The cast is a credit to Villenueve and casting director, Francine Maisler.

Filmed in Albuquerque and other parts of New Mexico, Villenueve’s style is brought to life with Roger Deakins’ stellar cinematography.  Arial shots make up a large portion of the film landscape, but serve a very deliberate point.  There is very rarely a wasted frame.  Editing by Joe Walker is tight, giving a solid pace to the film, while Jóhann Jóhannsson’s pulse pounding score underscores the emotional impact of the movie.

Certain threads in the story remain unresolved by the end of the film.  However, it is not to the detriment of the movie; rather it reinforces the main themes.  Recognized with a Palme d’ Or nomination at Cannes, Sicario delivers and is recommended.