Wednesday, July 11, 2018

[Review] Sicario: Day of the Soldado

I was such a big fan of Denis Villeneuve's brutal cartel thriller Sicario that word of a sequel came as bitter news to me, especially considering how well Sicario worked as a standalone film. Unsurprisingly, Sicario: Day of the Soldado never reaches the immersive intensity of its predecessor, but the returning cast of Josh Brolin and a mean-as-ever Benicio del Toro still deliver some heart-stopping shots.

Government agent Garver (Brolin) is sent to the Mexican border to essentially rile up tensions between the cartels (who are now deemed as terrorists) and cut the heads off the snakes, so to speak. Of course, he calls upon his old acquaintance Alejandro (del Toro) -- the baddest assassin no matter what country he's operating in -- and a winding, intertwining plot of worms unleashed.

Even though this sequel doesn't quite boast the evocative visual flair of the first one, it's still unflinching with its visceral action missions and pointed shootouts. Much of the dirty work takes place in broad daylight, exhibiting the merciless -- almost desensitizing -- violence that infects the hostile terrain, from the dusty deserts to the sprawling cities. The narrative also tosses in some hefty dilemmas, especially as Alejandro reluctantly ends up being responsible for the safety of one of the cartel leader's teenage daughters (played by Isabela Moner, who gives an impressively bold performance here). As chilling as this Alejandro character is, he does have a moral compass.

Oftentimes, Sicario: Day of the Soldado feels like an unnecessary extension that veers into some questionable territory, and yet, its deep dive into this harsh world is difficult to look away from. Watching Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro flex their badass chops isn't the worst way to spend a couple of hours.

( 7/10 )

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