“Sicario” takes us into the brutal world of Mexican drug cartels, their infiltration into the United States, and America’s response to this threat, legal and illegal.   This is a dark, twisted version of “Alice In Wonderland,” and could be titled “Alice The FBI Agent in Cartel Land.”

Emily Blunt is “Alice The FBI Agent” who volunteers to work with an inter-agency team to bring down high-ranking members of a Mexican, drug cartel that have set up shop in the U.S.  Josh Brolin is the secretive “Cheshire Cat” who leads the team — he grins and smirks often, but behind those smiling eyes is a cold-blooded soldier who will carry out his orders any way he can.  More shadowy than Brolin is Benicio Del Toro, the “Mad Hatter” who has an “appointment” with the leader of the Mexican cartel so he can fulfill his own agenda, whatever that may be.  Blunt can, at any time, remove herself from the inter-agency team and go home; but she wants to know how deep the rabbit hole goes and what is at the end of it despite the risks to her career, her sanity, and her life.

At the top of the list for my memorable, movie moments of “Sicario” is the part when Blunt and her teammates have an upper-echelon cartel member in their possession and they are on their way back to the U.S. border.  Traffic at the checkpoint is a nightmare and the area has become a parking lot.  The Americans know they are in a good spot for an ambush by the drug dealers, and within seconds they spot two cars loaded with serious looking Mexicans carrying an assortment of guns.

Taking the number two spot for my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Blunt’s team crossed over into Mexico in their black SUVs, and moments later they are escorted by a dozen Mexican police vehicles manned by fully armored cops carrying heavy weapons.  Blunt takes all this in with widened eyes which grow more fearful when she spots naked, headless bodies of men hanging from a trestle, presumably victims of the cartels.

It’s rare for a movie to keep up a high level of intensity through most of the story, but “Sicario” does just that.  There are many “critics” out there who are secretly paid by movie studios to use phrases like “grabs you and won’t let go until the end” in their reviews.  Well, “Sicario” does just that: it grabs your attention from the first shot to the last.  I was very entertained, Maximus!

— M