It moves fast, and it is remorseless, amusing summer fare.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Director: Stefano Sollima (Suburra)
Screenplay: Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water)
Cast: Benicio Del Toro (Che), Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men)
Runtime: 2 hr 2 min
by John DeSando
By any other name the original Sicario is still synonymous with government and cartel vigilante violence along the border of Mexico. In Sicario: Day of the Soldado that mayhem is just as prevalent and depressing, where the body count now occurs because the CIA or DEA or whatever has pulled out the stops trying to start a war among the cartels.
The pawn is Isabel Reyes (Isabela Moner), the young daughter of a feared kingpin; her kidnapping by the disguised USA agents promises a bloody war. For all the violence, for which there is little remorse from film or filmmakers, director Stefano Sollima allows a bit of humanity to creep in. Agent and former cartel assassin Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), whose family’s murder turned him to become a US operative, cares enough to protect the young girl, while agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) struggles to perform the murders his superiors demand.
Amorality rather than soul-searching allows action to dominate in thrilling cinematography. The film does have some insight into the chaos of border crossing, Soldado concentrating on terrorist trafficking rather than drugs, and a brief moment of suspense as Alejandro tries to keep Isabel with him. Tearing the child away obliquely reminds us of the current zero-tolerance controversy on real borders.
Soldado has non-stop action with not enough character development. For instance, more dialogue could have given insight into Isabela, whose actress holds promise for future films where she will be able to use her talents. Catherine Keener’s US boss is largely lost to a few moments that remind us how effective an actress she can be. Del Toro needs to show more of his Oscar-winning chops.
But, hey, it’s summer escapist time, and under those terms, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a pleasure.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com