During an episode of the “Team Deakins” podcast released in August, Roger Deakins and Denis Villeneuve’s longtime editor Joe Walker reflected on the original opening to “Sicario” that was left on the cutting room floor. The film was initially set to begin with a scene involving Benicio del Toro’s assassin Alejandro interrogating a cop by holding his head underwater. Alejandro accidentally drowns the cop, only to resuscitate him with CPR and continue the interrogation. The opening served as a bleak introduction to Alejandro and the film’s dour tone, but it distorted Villeneuve’s plan for the film’s overall perspective.
“It changed Benicio’s introduction and the perspective of the film,” Deakins said. “You feel [in the theatrical cut it’s] more about Emily [Blunt] and this ghostly character shows up at the airport. I really miss the opening but I’m glad it wasn’t used.”
Walker agreed the original opening “changed the perspective of the entire film,” noting that Villeneuve was adamant about rooting the viewer in the perspective of Emily Blunt’s character Kate. Starting the film with such a brutal Alejandro scene meant that del Toro’s character would be looming large in the mind of viewers even as the film shifted to the perspective of Blunt’s character.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter to promote her new film “Wild Mountain Thyme,” Blunt was asked to weigh in about Villeneuve’s cutting of the original “Sicario” opening. The actress said it was the right decision since her character was designed by Villeneuve as the audience’s stand-in.
“I remember thinking that was interesting to really use her as the audience because you as an audience are as in the dark as she is,” Blunt said. “You are as morally torn as she is. And what I find so impressive about ‘Sicario’ is that the amazing Roger Deakins used that camera as another character. It’s that prowling, surveying camera that focuses on what you think you see and don’t see. So I just love that ‘Sicario’ is really uncompromising about how little information you’re given.”
Blunt added, “You very much feel for Kate Macer because you’re kind of with her the whole time. She is your eyes and ears. So I think that perspective, of it being through her eyes, was the right decision, yeah.”
When pressed about potentially reprising Kate in a future “Sicario” movie, Blunt reminded the interviewer that Kate was not brought back for the sequel that was made, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” Blunt added, “Since they made the second one without Kate, I’m not sure what happens now.”