Emily Blunt in Sicario.

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an FBI agent who deals with kidnappings, inadvertently finds herself in the middle of a Mexican drug-cartel war after being enlisted by a shifty government type (Josh Brolin).

After she finds a houseful of dead bodies, Brolin’s character shows up, has a little meeting, recruits Kate and puts her on a private jet with Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), a mysterious man who seems to be some sort of consultant. After being told she is going to Texas, she winds up in Juarez, Mexico, and eventually needs to fight for her life in a border gun battle.

Director Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Prisoners) keeps things intense, especially when Del Toro is on the screen. The real reason for his character’s presence, revealed late in the film, is a real kicker. Brolin is great as the crusty agent who wears sandals to meetings and sleeps on planes.

In the end, this is Blunt’s movie, and she is dynamite as Kate. It’s another action-intensive role for the versatile actress (she was great in Edge of Tomorrow)—and she’s an early contender for a Best Actress Oscar.

Sicario is playing at theaters across the valley.