Benicio Del Toro and James Brolin reunite to kill more bad guys in Sicario: Day of the Soldado. (Sony Pictures)

Reel Reviews: Soldiers fighting crime with crime

We say, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado sets up the characters for further sequels.”

After American authorities discover Mexican cartels have begun smuggling international terrorists across the border for profit, they decide to bring in Justice Department specialist Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to solve the problem. Graver, working secretly with his near infinite resources reunites with a hitman (Benicio Del Toro) to kidnap the daughter of a cartel kingpin and blame it on a rival cartel. This plan has problems from the beginning and most of the players will end up dead before officials can even cover up their tracks.

We say, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado sets up the characters for further sequels.”

TAYLOR: A soldado is a soldier, in Spanish. This “day of the soldier” comes when the American government decides to classify the Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations, setting them squarely in the purview of the military, which means, of course, that they no longer need to worry about working from within the law. Black Operators do secret works with secret budgets employing soldiers who follow orders. How much this coincides with reality I do not know, but it does make for a tidy, polished series of high tech murders. The fact is that these killings are the window dressings of a film about the blurry greyness of our good guy, bad guy paradigm. After watching this film, much like the first Sicario film, I didn’t feel like I was supposed to have my mind made up about any action undertaken by its characters, like them, I’m just exhausted and wish these things hadn’t happened in the first place.

HOWE: Huh? What?! I just got off a plane from Toronto, having returned with my family from our recent trip to England. What day is this?

TAYLOR: In the first Sicario, (Spanish for ‘hitman’) Emily Blunt played a FBI agent who cut her teeth in a different, morally ambiguous government operation with Brolin’s and Del Toro’s characters. In this film we have a young girl, a kid for the -napping, who has to deal with cold, indifferent company man and the damaged assassin. Isabela Moner plays Isabel Reyes, the daughter of the kingpin. I’d never noticed her before, but she’s about to play Dora in the live-action Dora the Explorer so I guess we’ll all see. I thought she occasionally tried too hard to be the tough girl, but her performance was acceptable. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s back in a couple years for Sicario 3, playing Reyes again, older and tougher.

HOWE: I remember the fist Sicario film. We both liked it. It was gritty.

TAYLOR: I remember the things that bugged me about the first film, long shots of nothing, staring at a sunset, more the choices of the director, the pace. This film has a style not dissimilar, but for some reason I didn’t find it dragging. It’s not that Day of the Soldado is a better, faster, more interesting film than the original, more likely that my particular preferences were more well met. Both films are about the blurry lines created when people do this kind of work. That’s probably the most intriguing part of these Sicario pictures, it’s about the job, the life. This isn’t John Wick. This is the world.

Taylor gives Sicario: Day of the Soldado 3.5 satellite phones out of 5.

Howe will be back next week.


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