Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
After a terrorist bombing in the U.S. is linked to Mexican human traffickers, covert ops experts Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) are enlisted to help the CIA incite a war between rival cartels.
U.S. government operative Matt Graver, played by Josh Brolin, and lawyer-turned-assassin Alejandro Gillick, a brooding Benicio del Toro, return for the second chapter of the critically acclaimed movie.
Penned by original scriptwriter Taylor Sheridan, Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado focuses on the timely topic of human trafficking.
The multi-strand tale opens with a chilling sequence showing a terrorist incident in Kansas City.
After it emerges the terrorists were smuggled over the U.S. border, which is controlled by the drug cartels, Graver is brought in by the CIA to engineer a war between the cartels.
Matt (Brolin) and Alejandro (del Toro) assemble a crack team, complete with army grade hardware, to kidnap the daughter of drug lord Carlos Reyes, Isabela, excellently played by Isabela Moner, and make it look like the doings of a rival cartel.
However, Matt's plan begins to unravel following a bloody confrontation with some crooked Mexican police, and CIA boss Cynthia (Catherine Keener) orders him to shut down the operation and clean up the loose ends - Isabela and Alejandro.
In a subplot, teenager Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez) is being groomed by a Mexican crime boss to work in the migrant-smuggling business: to accompany the desperate families, who pay a few hundred dollars, and help them dodge the border cops before crossing into American territory.
While the sequel certainly has its strengths, it’s essentially another bleak look at the so-called war on drugs, which sees Mexican people stereotyped as criminals and illegal immigrants.
The scriptwriter takes quite a few liberties with the characters that we already know from the first movie, minus a sorely-missed Emily Blunt.
While Blunt was the film’s moral compass in Sicario, del Toro’s silent assassin goes against the ruthless persona we saw in the first film to partly fill the void.
He displays an uncharacteristic protectiveness over Isabela, who is no feeble cartel princess.
She quickly trusts Alejandro, even though she knows he’s an enemy of her father and the relationship between them is one of the stronger parts of the movie.
When the hunter becomes the hunted later on you’ll soon find yourself rooting for them to make it to safety.
The sequel continues the bleak tone set in the first movie, with Cynthia (played by an under-utilised Keener) even stating her disbelief that embattled Graver still believes the U.S. is actually trying to win the war on drugs.
Sicario 2 lacks the stunning visuals of Denis Villeneuve's original movie, and feels more conventional, but the director Stefano Sollima still creates plenty of suspense, underlined by Icelandic composer Hildur Guonadottir’s pulsating score, including the huge twist, which will either delight or anger you.
The relationship of few words between Alejandro and Isabela is the saving grace of the relentlessly bloody film which racks up quite the body count.
And despite its bleak outlook, Sicario 2 does manage to briefly show a version of the terror felt by people without means or protection, desperately trying to cross the border to safety and a better life.
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