'Sicario' with Emily Blunt as FBI agent brings drug wars to Cannes

Tue May 19, 2015 2:52pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

CANNES, France (Reuters) - A film that Canadian director Denis Villeneuve says is meant to break "a cover of silence" about the brutality of the Mexican drug trade and the complicity of users in the violence that feeds their habits blasted its way into Cannes on Tuesday.

"Sicario", which means hitman in Latin America, is an action-packed thriller in which agents cross territorial and legal boundaries.

Emily Blunt plays FBI agent Kate who gets recruited into a high-risk CIA-led drug operation across the border.

Josh Brolin is Matt, the CIA team leader, while Benicio Del Toro, who played a conflicted cop in the 2000 narcotics-trade hit "Traffic", co-stars as a Colombian who has a role with the CIA team that does not become clear until the end.

The film, in competition for the top Palme d'Or prize, is filmed by Roger Deakins who creates a hellish Juarez, Mexico, where cartels turn the town into a war zone. A tunnel search scene with night-vision effects is a particularly superbly shot.

Villeneuve said he had been drawn to the script, in which many of the characters, except Kate, seem to be lacking any kind of moral compass, because it brought out the moral ambiguities of the war on drugs and the violence of the narcotics trade.

"As a North American I know that I share a part of the responsibility for that, and that violence is - from what I understood - under a cover of silence and I think that violence is horrible but violence under silence is more horrible," Villeneuve told a news conference.

Blunt said she had discovered after she took the role of Kate that there had been pressure to change her character to a man - a move that Villeneuve said he would not have accepted.   Continued...

(L-R) Cast members Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt, director Denis Villeneuve, cast member Benicio Del Toro pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the screening of the film "Sicario" in competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 19, 2015.        REUTERS/Yves Herman