It’s the pointy end of 2015 and that means the Top 20, my best of list is getting close to completion. I will be releasing the JK’s Top 20 on January 15th – I have two films to see that are not releasing until early January, THE REVENANT and THE HATEFUL EIGHT. These must be included for Oscar purposes. But, in getting everything complete and studied I need to get all my reviews finalised and one that has taken me a while to write has been one of the year’s masterpieces, SICARIO. This Mexican cartel/ CIA movie with the best casting of 2015 released back in Australia in September but had limited marketing and the box office was nothing to get excited over, as such it is probably one of the most underrated movies of the year. It was released from the wonderful peeps at Roadshow Films, was rated MA15+ and runs for 121mins.


Sicario Movie Poster Image
Sicario | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie Poster Image



SICARIO is brought to us from growing master filmmaker Denis Villeneuve of PRISONERS and INCENDIES fame, his following and worship is on the ever growing critical ascent to legend. His movie’s tones and emotional ties are somewhat dark and unsettling and his nuance in delivering an exceptionally strong movie is his crown. SICARIO is well placed on his trajectory, it is my favourite film of his and it held me from start to finish in an ever increasing uncomfortable embrace.

SICARIO follows Kate Macer, an always amazing Emily Blunt, as an FBI hostage agent working U.S. Mexican border towns trying to save people from cartel collateral damage. Following a horrendous discovery at the beginning of the film she is requested to join a different department to assist with capturing and bringing down the Mexican cartels responsible for multiple travesties. It is here she joins a dark and untrustworthy team led by Matt Graver, superbly played asshole by Josh Brolin and Alejandro masterfully portrayed by the creepy and powerful Benicio del Toro.


Sicario Emily Blunt Daniel Kaluuya image
Sicario | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Emily Blunt as Kate Macer and Daniel Kaullya as Reggie Wayne


The movie is near on perfect, casting is the winner in this movie, the trio of Blunt, Brolin and Del Toro is unstoppable, uncomfortable and superb. It feels like this would have been a hard movie for Blunt to make, nothing positive happens in the movie and there is nothing further from her role in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA than this role. She is probably one of my favourite actors at the moment and her chameleon ability and strength in masculine heavy action movies is exceptional, if we want a woman to punch and kick down a gender barrier in Hollywood, go no further than Blunt. Add to the fact she started filming this just four months after having her first baby and the woman can run the world and still look gorgeous!

Brolin’s character, Matt Graver, is just a prick, and Brolin just flourishes in the role, the over confident strong man with the U.S. government on his side, he is an unstoppable plotting untrustworthy misogynistic dickhead and he deserves an award for it.


Sicario Benicio Del Toro image
Sicario | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro


And as for Benicio Del Toro, it is the character and performance of his career, a silent assassin, a modern day questionable samurai with no allegiance but his own. The word “Sicario” derives from the Latin word “Sicarius”, meaning “dagger man”. The term was used by Romans to describe Jewish Zealots who killed Roman citizens using a “sica” or small dagger hidden in their cloaks. It adapted through time and in Spanish now means hitman. Del Toro’s character, Alejandro, is the sicario of the movie and he is phenomenal, He worked with Villeneuve and they ended up cutting out 90% of his dialogue in the movie because his character is darkly mysterious and this silent brooding unknown force has so much more power than the character that is spelling everything out for dumbed down audience. For me there will be three solid actors for Best Supporting Oscar this year; Del Toro, Tom Hardy and still my pick, Jacob Tremblay from ROOM (if the Academy has the actual intelligence to nominate him). I will be happy with either of these three, all equivalent in amazement.


sicario movie image
Sicario | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Josh Brolin as Matt Graver, John Bernthal as Ted, Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro


One of Villeneuve’s best qualities is the level of skill he surrounds himself with when making a movie, his casts are always epically as strong as his technical teams. Using Roger Deakins as your DoP is award worthy in itself, Deakins has shot everything from THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION to DEAD MAN WALKING, FARGO, THE BIG LABOWSKI to SKYFALL. He makes films look good. Deakins’ work on SICARIO is one of his best, his work with the lighting team and art direction gives a sparse world with everything simple and worked down to next to nothing but necessities in the scenes, it allows all the characters to come to the fore and adds to the tone of the movie, for me, best cinematography of the year.

And the final winner of the movie and (again, for me) best sound and score on a movie for 2015, hands down is this movie. The underflowing bass held-note is what makes you uneasy, watch the trailer below to get a feeling, it is a constant sound that just screams dread, darkness and inevitability at being over your head in something bigger than you can imagine. I tip my hat to Jóhann Jóhannsson (PRISONERS, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING) for this score, it is so unnerving I applaud it.


sicario movie image
Sicario | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro


SICARIO is a work of art, I would not be surprised if it took out best picture at the 2015/2016 Academy Awards. It is intelligent, dark and filled with clever talent everywhere you look (or listen). And what the film says for the state of the drug wars, the CIA and cartels is powerful and as far as my movie tastes go, as good as TRAFFIC and BLOW.


4 and a Half Pops



Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).