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May 20, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

In his 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino created a fictional World War 2 that was swiftly won by the allies when they spurned international law and adopted relentlessly brutal tactics against the Nazi occupiers of France — torture, murder, even suicide bombings. In Denis Villeneuve thriller Sicario, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, a similar case is made that the war on drugs could be won if there were no rules of engagement. It pits a by-the-book FBI agent played by Emily Blunt against a take-no-prisoners Colombian hitman played by Benicio del Toro. (Actually they’re on the same side in the drug war.) When Tarantino’s film was screened at Cannes — a city just 250 miles away from Vichy, the capital of occupied France during WW2 — it was greeted by sustained applause. One can only imagine how it will be greeted in Mexico — if the film is ever shown there at all — what with scenes of U.S. agents virtually invading the country, kidnaping and killing a corrupt police officer and taking down various drug lords and henchmen. At Cannes, however, it received the same sort of reception that Tarantino’s film did — including several nearly rapturous reviews.”As an action thriller, it delivers,” wrote Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian. Todd McCarthy in the Hollywood Reporter described it as “powerful and superbly made.” Scott Foundas in Variety called it “blisteringly suspenseful … impeccably crafted.” There were a few dissenters. Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson suggested that the real problem with the movie is that “the filmmakers can’t figure out if they want to make a policy drama or an intimate action thriller.” Tim Robey in the London Telegraph praised the film’s craft and performances but faulted “its rather sputtering momentum, and the lack of a higher purpose.” But perhaps what the critics regarded as the film’s weaknesses were put forward with intent. Said Villeneuve at a news conference following the screening: “We are living in a time where gray zones are more blurred than ever,”