Already, as far as UK release dates are concerned, Denis Villeneuve has brought us one of this year's most intelligent and disturbing psychological thrillers, in the shape of Enemy starring a pair of Jake Gyllenhaals.

With Sicario he mixes the same kind of subtle, ambiguous morality with something a little more "crowd pleasing", though no less upsetting.

As much as 2013's Prisoners was, on the surface, a kidnap thriller and detective movie, here Sicario also offers a subtle dual narrative, with each tale as topical, urgent and distressing as the other.

Emily Blunt plays Kate, an FBI "thumper", who has found her investigations drawing her closer to a Mexican drug cartel, specifically Manue Diaz. She's enlisted by a government agency to work alongside them in their investigation into Diaz, Kate is eager to help and bring this criminal to justice.

Things are odd from the off, with her commanding agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) treating everything with an oddly detached air of enjoyment, slumming around the agency in sandals and bold print t-shirts. Alongside him, there's Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) who on the one hand seems cool, calm, collected and on the other has nightmares that jerk him out of sleep.

Quickly Kate realises she's into something stranger and scarier than she anticipated, as their outfit crosses the border into Juarez, Mexico in order to extract Diaz with the constant threat of attack from gangs or corrupt police hanging over them like the sword of Damacles, in the film's nail-bitingly tense central set-piece.

Here Villeneuve excels, mixing huge doses of exposition and scene setting with a sure geography of action, bolsted by Roger Deakin's crisp yet sleazy cinematography and a heart-quickening percussion-heavy score by Jóhann Jóhannsson. Centring the escalating tension around an increasingly bewildered and terrified Kate, it's sure to be remembered as one of the more astounding sequences of the year.

Despite all this technical bravado though it's thanks largely to Blunt and Del Toro that the film works so well, and ultimately their relationship proves to be one of the film's strongest. Alongside a nice pairing between Kate and her equal Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya), and we also cut to Mexican police officer Silvio (Maximiliano Hernández) who bonds with his son, whilst seeming distant from his wife.

Primarily, the film can be taken as a police thriller, but the judgmental and political questions it begins to ask of its characters - and its audience - are palpable and impossible to ignore. No side is "good" or "bad", things aren't as clear as that, though ultimately there is undoubtedly a message here, a clear indication of the film's intent and what it wants to say about modern government and how it works.

Whilst consistently gripping and expertly wrangled, the film doesn't quite have the same lingering brilliance of Enemy, and sits more comfortably on a par with the director's better known effort Prisoners, which also used a conventional thriller narrative to investigate modern American foreign policy. Another impressive accomplishment for Villeneuve.