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‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ (review)

Produced by Basil Iwanyk, Edward L. McDonnell,
Molly Smith, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill
Written by Taylor Sheridan
Directed by Stefano Sollima
Starring Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin,
Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan,
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Catherine Keener


Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan returns to serve up the second installment of the Sicario trilogy with Italian director Stefano Sollima at the helm.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado reunites us with Black Ops Matt Graver (Brolin). Graver is tasked unofficially by the Secretary of State Riley (Mathew Modine) to secretly start a Cartel War to disrupt the flow of human traffic over the Mexican/American border after it has been identified as an entry point for Islamic terrorists.

Graver brings in his operative, Alejandro (Del Toro) to help kidnap the daughter of Reyes, the head the largest, most dangerous Cartel while setting up a rival Cartel for the blame, kicking off the Cartel War.

When the operation goes sideways, the White House pulls the plug. Graver is forced to choose between the loyalty to Alejandro and his orders.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a hodge-podge of today’s sensationalized news headlines. Terrorists bombings, Somali pirates, Mexican Drug Cartels, human trafficking and illegal immigrants; it’s as if Sheridan made a checklist from Fox News Poll about what Americans fear and decided to put it all in one film. The plot device to connect the threats is convoluted, but the argument could be made that real life is just as complicated.

However, the jumps between the parallel stories of the Black Ops and the kidnapped daughter and the human traffic ring are so abrupt that it is jarring.

Josh Brolin continues his streak of tough guy roles with a cool delivery that seems effortless. Benicio Del Toro has a touching paternal chemistry with young actress, Isabela Moner, who plays the young kidnapped girl. Unfortunately, outside of these three main actors, the rest of the cast is left with by the book caricatures that leave little room for developed characters. Where the first Sicario took its time to delve into the characters and their stories, Day of the Soldado is filled with the expected commandos, gang bangers, and greasy politicians, but they exist mainly to be shot or blown up.

Where the film does deliver is in the way it handles the violence. Much of the violence happens just out of frame of the camera, leaving much of it up to the viewers imagination. It makes the impact more visceral. I heard more gasps and squeals from the viewing audience in reaction to the shootings than I have in some of the horror movies I have screened.

While there is nothing particularly wrong with Sicario: Day of the Soldaro, I’m not sure it was needed. The first film’s story was more interesting and intense. The sequel is entertaining, but by making another film, it has diluted the power of the original.


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