‘Sicario’ Reveals the Gruesome Underbelly of Mexican Drug Cartels


Sicario reveals to Americans the underbelly of Mexican drug cartels and the story it tells is gruesome. This movie is written by Tayor Sheridan and directed by Denis Villeneuve, the same director as the film Prisoners. Based on the previews and critics at the Cannes Film Festival last May, it brings a feel that is much too real, which can be the key to its success, or to its detriment.

Like Man on Fire, the object of protection is a white woman, in this case it is Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt. In the film, she is an FBI agent yet she is also a victim to a culture that is so far removed from the gangs and challenges she may have once faced. There are promised plot twists as is true of all stories of Mexican cartels. The movie features top-notch actors, including Academy Award winner, Benicio del Toro and Academy Award nominee, Josh Brolin. The acting alone from these three famed individuals will be worth the price of admission and if the story line is good, perhaps it will justify the popcorn.

Sicario, a word the movie makers claim equates to “hitman” in slang Spanish, is a story focused on Mexican drug cartels, and it will reveal in part the gruesome underbelly of the cartel movements and culture. In reality, these drug cartels have plagued Mexico since the early 1990s and their influence and corruption has affected the feeling of security for every Mexican living in the country today, regardless of education or social status.

Although documentaries, Mexican films and a few somewhat less serious movies have addressed cartels, this movie will be one of the few, like Traffic, to go deep into a cartel story. For American audiences, the movie may come and go as another tragic, or maybe even evil experience, faced by a different country. What will be interesting to watch for will be the reaction across the border to the premiere of this film, which depicts an all too real drama. The problem with the Mexican drug cartels that plague Mexico is that they have cost over 120 thousand deaths and 27 thousand kidnappings and disappearances, insecurity and rage toward a government that cannot solve the problem and can at times be seen colluding with the criminals.

Today, Mexico is teetering on the edge of actionable fury due to last fall’s disappearance of 43 students in the drug-plagued region of Iguala, Guerrero. For the first time, the Mexican sentiment is that they have had enough. Fear is so deeply instilled in each county-loving man and woman and all they can do is hope enough of them will have the courage to rise up. Eventually enough individuals may demand change, electorally and through policy, and can then turn Mexico into a functioning, legitimate nation.

Sicario looks to reveal the underbelly of Mexican drug cartels, and no matter how scaled back, it is gruesome. When this movie is released in the fall in theaters all over America, hopefully, viewers will be entertained, surprised or slightly attuned to a large-scale concern. When the movie is released in Mexico, these same citizens that have been brutalized by violence, will hopefully be entertained and surprised, but it is unlikely, as they live too often and too close to any Sicario.

Opinion by Olivia Uribe-Mutal

You Tube – MovieClips Trailers Sicario, Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro Movie HD

Variety – Cannes Film Review: Sicario

Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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