Summer is over and the serious fall films are starting to emerge. This new crime thriller from director, Denis Villeneuve, will satisfy fans of "Traffic" and the TV show, "The Bridge". The story centers on our government's involvement with the Mexican drug cartel.
The film stars Emily Blunt as Kate, an idealistic FBI agent who is recruited into a mysterious unit led by Matt, played by Josh Brolin, working off the grid to find a Mexican crime boss. It's a bit confusing at first, especially when Alejandro, played by Benicio Del Toro makes his appearance. The confusion, however, is clearly deliberate as we see the story unfold through Kate's eyes and it's easy to understand how the lines blur and everything is not as it seems. Ms. Blunt is excellent but her character is underdeveloped, acting more as our window into this violent world, more than anything else. Far more interesting characters are Matt and Alejandro, especially as motives become clearer.
There are some riveting sequences as well as quiet moments but the film propels itself towards a climax we don't expect, yet fully understand as the credits role. There are many violent scenes and yet, Mr. Villeneuve shakes us with violence that takes place off screen as well. The cinematography is by Roger Deakins, and he makes great use of the desert scenery and a particularly tense sequence shot through the lens of night goggles. The musical score is haunting and serves to keep the audience unnerved throughout the film.
It lacks the scope of "Traffic" but it's an authentic and suspenseful drama that exposes the ambiguity and grey lines that sometimes have to be crossed for the greater good. There are no easy answers when the wolves at the door end up everywhere.