I haven’t seen any of Villeneuve’s earlier movies, but now that I’m looking them up online, I bet I’m going to like them too. This one is pretty terrific. The narrative is generic. A naive and idealistic cop (the hardworking and dependable Emily Blunt) stumbles on a kind of Sonoran Chinatown, coming to realize to her horror that the cartels are everywhere, in everything, on both sides of the border. There is no here vs. there or us vs. them; good and evil are inextricable and sometimes even indistinguishable; etc. Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro are the CIA cowboys who teach her how the drug war is really fought, with a little less Miranda and a little more torture than she’s accustomed to. The acting mostly consists of people looking at things intently with their teeth clenched and eyes narrowed, but the photography and direction are Michael-Mann-level phenomenal. The opening sequence, in fact, reminds me of the opening sequence in Heat, which, as faithful readers will know, is about my favorite policier of all time. Fantastic tension in the editing, perfect flat washed-out Portra colors in the desert sun. Nice.