To start, this is one of the best movies of 2015. It's beautifully shot, brutally realistic, and the acting from everyone involved is top-notch. British actress Emily Blunt gives easily the best dramatic performance I've ever seen from her, playing an American FBI agent. Her American accent is dead-on flawless and she brings a ton of grit and spunk to her character, and deserved any award nominations she received for this role. Josh Brolin is also terrific and entertaining as a brash government task-force official, giving this very serious and gritty film a slight touch of much-needed cocky humor. And of course, Benicio Del Toro is 'Sicario'', the hitman out to avenge his murdered wife and daughter in a both brutal yet nuanced terrific performance. If it weren't for Leo Di Caprio's (certainly amazing!) turn as Mr Glass in the mindblowing Revenant, Del Toro should have gotten at least some sort of wider recognition (although I read he was deservedly nominated for a BAFTA award for the role).
Without giving away too much, the film is part action, part thriller and part espionage. I've now watched it at least 5 times, both on standard 1080p bluray and already twice now in this seriously jaw-dropping 4k UHD bluray presentation. It's one of those films that gets richer with each repeat viewing, and this outstanding early-generation 4k disc only makes it all the richer.
The standard 1080p bluray was already a technical treat, with sharp video, excellent blacks, and a reference-grade 7.1 Dolby Atmos/TrueHD audio track. This new 4k version with HDR definitely surpasses the 1080 in virtually all respects (although to be fair, 'regular' bluray still remains amazing, and the difference in raw 'clarity' is more of an incremental upgrade compared to 1080 vs 480). The first impression is the feeling you are looking through a brand new window. This is some of the cleanest, most pristine video my 4k tv has ever displayed to date (Samsung 55JS8500-with HDR, 2015). The detail in facial closeups, clothing and surface textures is off the charts. My Sammy JS8500 TV is considered an entry-level HDR model, but the benefits of HDR are immediate and perhaps even more striking than the resolution itself. Blacks and shadows are considerably deeper and more detailed, and bright material jumps out of the screen. Fire burns with realistic intensity and brightness. Colors, even in Sicario's somewhat beige-leaning cinematography, are rich and intense, yet very natural if you set your color 38-45. Flesh tones are impressive, and outdoor scenes in Juarez are striking, with bold yellows (once the hardest color for video to get right), blues and reds. An old turquoise car in one combat scene really jumps off the screen.
As for the 7.1 sound, this is demo-worthy material...
Gunshots ricochet all over, explosions and the ominous musical score shake the floor. Helicopters seamlessly pan from the far back surrounds to the sides then the front with uncanny realism (and that's without currently having the Dolby Atmos height channels.)
All told, l think the whole 4k experience overall is a home run, and it only makes a standout film like Sicario all the more engaging. After a recent night out at a nearby dine-in AMC to see The Conjuring 2 (very good sequel, by the way), I can say that 4k bluray with HDR matches and in many respects outclasses the image quality of the so-called 'real thing'. The brightness and blacks are superior, and the image detail is way sharper compared to the softer look of a large projected image. Everything about Sicario, from the acting, cinematography and the intense action, to the stunning 4k video and 7.1 audio presentation, should make adding this must-have early UHD release a high priority for anyone who loves great films and is highly recommended.