A stylish thriller whose technical prowess is as exhilarating to behold as it is admirable, communicating writer Taylor Sheridan's simplistic story with verve and vibrancy. Sheridan lays a bare narrative out bare; director Denis Villeneuve turns bare into spare, constructing powerful sensory experiences out of otherwise simple scenes with a startling soundscape and striking cinematography. Sicario has many merits, but chief among them is the highly successful collaboration between Villeneuve and his DP Roger Deakins - the two have a neatly matched artistic sensibility, and their combined storytelling technique is remarkably cohesive. Indeed, Villeneuve and Deakins are so well matched that Sicario slightly suffers as the work of art that they clearly strive for it to be - its stylistic parameters are too confined, too closed to interpretation, just a bit too perfect, and the film loses something in the way of humanity and plausibility as a result. It gains so much in the process, though, functioning as much as a tremendously tense thriller as it does a deeply unnerving horror film - the two converge in moments of disarming distress, accentuated by fine sound design and a complimentary, elemental score by Johann Johannsson. Motions toward political drama are less effective, unwanted diversions into vaguely allegorical territory from the script, but the film's stylistic strengths are enough to overcome Sicario's missteps.