The original “Sicario” from 2015 was entertaining in its views of the Mexican Cartel, as well as its terrific cast of Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, and Emily Blunt. We then get a sequel, “Day of the Soldado,” which isn’t better than the first, but still takes risks.
The movie opens with a note that terrorists are being smuggled across the border by the cartel, and continues with the bombing of a Kansas City department store. You may or may not be expecting this, but you just sit there thrilled and traumatized.
Blunt is out, but Brolin as Matt Graver and Del Toro as Alejandro Gillick are both back conjuring up an elaborate plan to get two rival cartels to start a war with each other. They have to kidnap Isabelle Reyes (Isabela Moner), the daughter of a drug lord, and protect her.
She has a fresh introduction when she is fighting another student for calling her a “whore,” and how she talks back to her principal. And she continues with her learning more about Alejandro’s life, and how his family was murdered.
Unfortunately, when the Mexican police jump on Alejandro and Graver’s team, and they win the shootout, the program gets shut down, and Alejandro is forced to kill the girl. He refuses and intends to get her safely across the border.
Meanwhile, there’s also a youngster by the name of Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez), who enters the smuggling game. This addition reminds me of the stories in “Babel,” but it was hard for me to understand this side clearly.
What I admire about the “Sicario” films are that Taylor Sheridan writes them with the kind of intensity and struggles. We see the harsh and violent lives of drug cartels, and the people who battle against them. This one, directed by Stefano Sollima, continues that trend, especially if the film looks great. Examples include the opening bombing scene and Alejandro shooting his enemies in Mexico City.
I can’t say it’s better than the first, because of how convoluted things get at times. Sometimes we hear one-liners, and other times the bullets and kidnappings have to tell us the story. It took me a while to warm up to the old and new characters, and their ambitions ands goals.
Still, the movie offers some terrific work from Brolin, Del Toro, and Moner, and I’m continuing to see through Sheridan’s words how intense the drug cartels are. It’s a war zone down there, and watching this movie is fun.