South of the border

Denis Villeneuve’s dark and tense Sicario, centred on FBI agents battling drug cartels near the U. S.-Mexico border, was a minor hit with audiences and critics, yet didn’t really stand out at the time for its great sequel potential.

 

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO

Director: Stefano Sollima
Cast: Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Rating: (R16)
★★★+ (out of five)

 

Three years later and Sicario: Day of the Soldado is being advertised as "the next chapter in the Sicario saga", with a third reportedly on the way, and at the very least it’s refreshing to see a movie franchise that doesn’t rely on spandex or CGI.

Although Villeneuve and star Emily Blunt have moved on to bigger and better things, original writer Taylor Sheridan returns, while Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin also reprise their square-jawed, anti-hero roles; the change in gender dynamics making this more of a boys’ own adventure than its predecessor.

Surprisingly, or perhaps inevitably, the political implications of the first film are largely downplayed, which for a story focusing on immigrants crossing the border invites way too many uncomfortable comparisons to recent events than it can realistically deal with.

For this reason, the opening act plays out as rather clunky, and the central plot, involving the government-sanctioned kidnapping of the daughter of a Mexican drug lord, to spark a gang war that would somehow stop the flow of illegal immigrants, seems naive and anachronistic in the current context.

However, taken on its own terms, it still stands as a cracking good action-thriller come modern-day western of the kind you barely see anymore.

- Jeremy Quinn

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