Denis Villeneuve’s drug cartel thriller Sicario was one of the best films of 2015. This sequel, bereft of Villeneuve, Emily Blunt and cinematographer Roger Deakins, fails to match the illustrious heights of the original, but it is still an agreeably bleak and gripping film.
Sicario 2: Soldado sees CIA covert ops expert Graver (Josh Brolin) joining forces once more with hitman Gillick (Benecio Del Toro). Enlisted by the Secretary of Defence (Matthew Modine) in the aftermath of a Mexican people smuggling linked suicide bombing, they are told to start a war amid the drug cartels. However, after a Cartel boss’s kidnapped daughter (Isabela Moner) is considered expendable, Graver and Gillick find themselves on opposite sides amid a violent CIA clean-up operation.
Performances are good, though I did rather miss Emily Blunt. However, Del Toro is especially excellent, conveying a haunted, shattered persona beneath his hard exterior as his character is explored a little further. Stefano Somilla handles the tense action set pieces very well, and here it’s worth adding a warning about strong violence and strong language. Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay does a good job of conveying the cynical and bleak moral quagmire of CIA, supposedly-for-the-greater-good shenanigans. However, credibility is stretched a little in the finale, leading to a slightly annoying potential sequel set-up.
That said, Sicario 2: Soldado is a very fine piece of work, even though it doesn’t quite match the first film.