Sicario 2: Soldado (2018)

Sicario 2: Soldado
Little fortune for this soldier

Director: Stefano Sollima
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Starring: Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Catherine Keener, Matthew Modine, Elijah Rodriguez, Shea Whigham, Bruno Bichir

The drug war on the U.S Mexico border has escalated, to the point the cartels have started trafficking terrorists across. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) re-teams with hitman Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), devising a plan to turn the cartels against one another.

Sometimes, real world events can come out of nowhere, and negatively impact upon a film with a long-held release date. This very thing happened to Sicario 2: Soldado, whose premise hinges upon the U.S Government kidnapping a young girl from her father, which unfortunately mirrors real world events as of late.

Image result for sicario 2 youtubeIf we choose to ignore that aspect, there's little else to go on in regards to the film. Denis Villeneuve's 2015 film took a unique perspective on the war on drugs, depicting it through the eyes of Emily Blunt's outsider protagonist, as the operation's true nature was unveiled to her in a horrifying fashion. Taking the reins is Stefano Sollima, making his English language debut, and the sad thing is Sollima does little to justify this follow-up.

Taylor Sheridan returns as screenwriter, but seems content with treading over similar ground which was done in the predecessor. The difference is, without someone to oppose the shady actions akin to the previous characters, who were played by Blunt and Daniel Kaluuya, it's almost as though the film is keen to glamorise the horrific practices. Such characters shouldn't be a necessity for audiences to know certain actions aren't right, but Sollima doesn't seem able to pull that off. If anything, he's more keen on indulging in the dull cliches Villeneuve tried to avoid in the predecessor, substituting a tense stand-off amongst parked cars for action scenes that feel uncomfortably gung-ho.

While the predecessor depicted how those in Mexico were affected by the war on drugs, no such thing is evident here. The most we get is Isabela Moner's fantastic performance put into her kidnap victim, and a superfluous subplot about a teenage boy who wants to be a gangster. Outside of that, there's little attempt at a viewpoint into these lives. The story is instead taken down avenues one can see coming from miles away, while the third act gives way to stupid and forced storytelling decisions. This includes a ridiculous try at building a franchise, all of which robs the film out of a satisfying ending. It's a shame, because Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro embody their roles very well, while Catherine Keener and Matthew Modine are great additions.

Sicario 2: Soldado hopes to be every bit as engaging and tense as its predecessor, but fails to match up. Unfortunately, the film does little to justify its existence, except as a cautionary tale as to why not all films need sequels.

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