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Sicario 2: Soldado (Sicario: Day of the Soldado)
U.S.A./Italy 2018

Opening 19 Jul 2018

Directed by: Stefano Sollima
Writing credits: Taylor Sheridan
Principal actors: Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener

In case audiences are wondering, in Spanish soldado means soldier, and sicario means hired assassin—the colloquial is hitman. In this crisp, spine-tingling follow-up to Sicario (2015), the primary protagonists return, although acerbic amorality replaces idealism. The gut-wrenching authenticity of trafficking is a reminder that every society has many layers.

Trouble escalates when it jumps the border into the American Heartland, thus leading to an African connection. The Secretary of Defense (Matthew Modine) convenes a super-high-level meeting is his office with politicians and law officials. Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is guest of honor; Foards (Catherine Keener) fills in the blanks. The mission is clear: “dirty is what I want.” Concurrently, a cousin lures a good kid (Elijah Rodriguez) into the underbelly of societies; Mexican cartels are always looking for good recruits. Once in, every task takes Miguel one notch higher on the cartel rung. Graver, with stalwarts Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), Steve Forsing (Jeffrey Donovan), and teams secure the target-cum-pawn (Isabela Moner). Crisscrossing borders, critical planning, experience, and chance delicately dance to fate’s music. A discordant note, then the silence is deafening. As directions change, virulent orders become enlightening, helpful. Sometimes, giving people freedom allows them to remember who they were.

Taylor Sheridan’s sequel screenplay is equally tight, riveting and infused with gritty realism. Stefano Sollima is the firm puppet-master consistently directing the layered storyline that the international cast pervades forcibly through their characters’ depictions. Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski captures action from every range and angle, including bird’s-eye loftiness, while Hildur Guðnadóttir’s music throbs with visceral premonition. Matthew Newman’s editing assures none are left behind following the complicated story, although more deftly applied music and at lower decibels would have gone further.

Nuggets are interspersed throughout Sicario 2: Soldado reminding audiences of current storms on real borders. As action rages, this gripping, fiery thriller shocks at times, suspends judgment at others, and definitely opens the possibility to explore the unresolved issues in the future. (Marinell Haegelin)

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