Review: SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO

Intense Sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” Stars Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin

 

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B +

 

Academy Award nominated screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (“Hell or High Water”) has written the sequel, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” to his 2015 screenplay, “Sicario” (directed by Denis Villeneuve) about the U.S.-Mexico border and the cartel’s activities that involve trafficking drugs, humans and perhaps other things that have not yet been the main focus in these stories. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is very difficult to watch in some scenes, especially at the onset of the film in a Kansas City supermarket when bombs go off after some men enter. It is horrific to view the loss of life involving a mother and child.

The men are assumed to have entered the U. S. across the Mexican border. CIA operative Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is also seen interrogating a Somali pirate, leading to more suspicion of terrorists arriving by boat to undisclosed locations south of Texas. After these scenes early in the script, I don’t recall another scene that showed the actual connection/contact between the presumed Middle Eastern terrorists and the Mexican cartels – especially during the scenes of transactions to smuggle the individuals, or the people transported by bus to the water’s edge. The official synopsis reads “as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border” and what is on the script/screen does not appear in sync to show cartels are doing this. The story does not show on screen “terrorists” are entering by way of the cartels, but once the government labels the cartels as “terrorists” it proceeds to take measures as if it is a 100% accurate. This is disappointing to me as this appears to perpetuate the government saying “all border crossers are terrorists,” among other things. While I enjoyed the overall action and crime drama immensely, I must warn there are many scenes that do not hold back on the violence and can be quite shocking. The issues in the script are timely, well written and a high dose of reality for those individuals who do not have a glimmer of an idea what this reality is for many. Don’t forget that it is a dramatization and is not here to respond to what is currently happening within the U. S. government at the time.

The Secretary of Defense James Riley (Matthew Modine) gives CIA operative Graver (Brolin) authority to do whatever it takes to eliminate anyone posing a threat to our national security, even on foreign soil, but don’t make it look like he said so. Graver seeks out his fellow operative and excellent hitman, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). Both Brolin and Del Toro excel in their tough as nails roles, but in this script viewers will have an opportunity to catch glimpses of their humanity.

“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” brings back characters of the 2015 film (with the major exception of Emily Blunt), and introduces two young characters, Isabel Reyes and Miguel Hernandez, performed by Isabela Moner (“Transformers: The Last Knight,” “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life”) and Elijah Rodriguez (“The Book of Life”). Moner’s performance as a feisty teenager subsequently kidnapped and Rodriguez as a young adolescent introduced into the smuggling world by his Uncle Hector (David Castañeda, “End of Watch”) are both outstanding to view and excellent casting choices with the talent to star alongside Brolin and Del Toro.

Director Stefano Sollima (“Gomorrah” TV series) takes Sheridan’s dark thriller and works to have it hit the viewer with shock, heavy violence and a continuous sense of dread that almost has the viewer feel unable to breathe. The scene that best captures the anticipation that the worst is about to hit is on the road with three American Humvees with Isabel in tow, dirt flying everywhere. Woah!

I won’t give into making additional statements about the operatives and the young teenagers, but suffice to say, Sheridan is on his way to take his characters into a new story in the near future.

Additional key cast members includes: Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Shea Whigham, Catherine Keener among the very large cast. (English, Spanish dialogue)

MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 2 hours 2 minutes

The film will be in theaters nationwide on Friday, June 29th

Source: Columbia Pictures

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