The image of blood splattered on a windscreen after a bloke’s brains have been blown out by gunfire is now de rigueur in movies of ‘gritty realism’ (for good measure, it’s featured twice in this). To give them their due, the chaps in the art department make an excellent job of it, too, but why do we flock to cinemas in such numbers to witness such slaughter and mayhem? Have we become desensitised by it? Or at heart are we just savages? The opening shot of what is a festival of violence has four suicide bombers annihilate shoppers in an American supermarket. In a screenplay that is more than just a little convoluted, federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) determines that their action is attributable to the Mexican cartels’ involvement in smuggling people across the US border. His response is to go in mob-handed and heavily armed, crossing the border and running amok. It’s not clear at times who the bad guys are, but we do know for sure that the charismatic Benicio Del Toro is not one of them – his character, Alejandro, saw his family wiped out in the prequel and we all want him to take his revenge on the warlord responsible. He might easily savour that cold dish when the warlord’s daughter, Isabel (Isabela Moner) is abducted, but he is too decent a fellow to do that and, in any case, she is meant to be a pawn in Graver’s plan to get the Mexican factions fighting among themselves. The eponymous hitman (sicario is the Spanish word for it) is Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez), a boy being trained for the job by one of the people smugglers. His initiation, in which he shoots somebody in the head at point blank range, might ordinarily be a scene to shock the viewer, but so much wanton killing has preceded it that it’s hard to react with more than ‘meh’. As the token woman, Christine Keener turns up as the tough-talking government official who tries to keep a rein on Graver. I enjoyed it heaps.
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