but holistically i found this to be just another gross US Military Industry Complex macho wankfest
Except it's a switcheroo, like RK was saying.
I usually allow myself to be sucked in by whatever moral universe a movie presents. But it was still an accomplishment that even 2/3 the way through, I viewed the protagonist (Kate) as naive, learning hard lessons about the real world, etc... and then was reversed pretty much right where the film wanted me to be.
This is clearly not meant to be an exposé about the horrors of the drug war. It has a very narrow scope.
I just wish the script was better, because everything else was breathtaking. I think samsong nailed it:
the majority of the film's flaws are attributable to the writing, which is a shame because villeneueve and company mine the screenplay for everything it's worth and transform it into something approaching greatness.
I don't mind being manipulated. It's only a problem when I can't ignore the moving parts. The state police officer's son was way over the top... just a strangely transparent way to tug at our heart strings before we can even make sense of it. All you understand is that you're being told to care about a character and that it will definitely be important later.
Also, making Kate sign off on the operation with a gun to her head.... really? We knew she was going to sign. We also knew Sicario wasn't about to explode her head all over himself, with no silencer. But we simply needed our protagonist to have no other option, to maximize her moral purity.
These were not elegant choices.
I still kinda loved the movie, though.