Sicario ★★★★★

"In the rollout of reviews for Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario (2015), understandable attention has been paid to the casting of Emily Blunt as FBI agent Kate Macer. Blunt’s character has been simultaneously praised for her prominence in an otherwise male-dominated story and criticized for the screenplay’s misuse of her as a glorified audience stand-in. In Sicario, Macer is given the opportunity to join a government task force charged with tracking down the Mexican drug cartel responsible for a botched kidnapping depicted in the tense opening sequence. The film is often beautiful to look at (thanks in large part to Roger Deakins’ cinematography), but operates with a bleak worldview in which Macer stands as the lone voice of reason. Yet for her troubles, she is constantly and consistently undermined for sticking to those principles, spending the majority of the runtime kept in the dark by her superiors about the real mission at hand (quite literally in the third act, which features extended sequences of night vision and heat vision POV cameras). This portrayal of Macer as an instrument of the male characters’ manipulations has caused some concern with some critics who see Macer’s powerlessness as an objectionable role for a female lead.

But an alternate reading of the film reveals Macer’s arc to be an authentic representation of a woman’s experience in a male-dominated career, in which she is doubly constrained by the limits and stipulations of her job. In Sicario, Macer’s refusal to do anything outside the law is an ingrained behaviour that echoes women’s experiences in the workplace, in which a woman’s job-related risk-taking is held under far more scrutiny than that of her male peers...."

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