Two weeks ago I saw Sicario. This bleak, nihilistic exploration of the ill-fated drug war offers unforgettable performances from stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Ms. Blunt plays Kate Macer, an idealistic FBI agent on the trail of a major drug trafficking ring near the border between the United States and Mexico. After a break in the case that results in the deaths of several law enforcement officers, Macer gets called into a high-level meeting to meet Matt Graver (played by Mr. Brolin). Looking more like a washed-up surf bum than a federal agent, Graver leads a shadowy team of operatives hunting only the biggest fish among the Mexican drug lords. He asks Macer in, and she accedes. From there things get messy.
Sicario is wonderfully paced and directed by Dennis Villeneuve and gorgeously shot by director of photography Roger Deakins. It features a chilling performance by Mr. Del Toro as the mysterious Alejandro, a man seemingly working for the “good guys,” but readily capable of heinous acts of violence. Agent Macer realizes she is in over her head during a nearly disastrous foray over the border into Mexico, and the movie quickly cranks the moral ambiguity up to ten and then breaks the nob off.
Sicario stays with you. That’s why I believe it will be an Oscar contender. It got me thinking about other movies and books about crime and the drug war that have had a similar affect on me.
Here’s a quick list of some titles that fit this description: