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Sicario 2 Soldado  

Review: written 2018

Provocative and challenging thriller

Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro return in this unexpected but welcome sequel. A series of events lead the US to decide that terrorism laws can be applied to the border drug cartels, and they bring in someone openly willing to do whatever he is asked to do (Josh Brolin). He in turn reunites with the guy he knows will go on that journey with him no matter how ‘dirty’ it gets – Benicio del Toro. He is asked to kidnap a drug cartel leader’s daughter (Isabella Moner). Once done, the movie changes direction somewhat as political support wanes and del Toro and Brolin are forced to consider what they are prepared to do next. Meanwhile, a young boy on the American side of the border is drawn in to the world of illegal border crossings.. is this the new Soldado in waiting, and how will his story intersect the others?

At first, the absence of Emily Blunt is missed as a ‘way in’ for the viewer to this morally murky world seemingly devoid of heart or humanity. It soon becomes clear however that actually this movie is if anything presenting a more disturbing and intriguing look at exactly those moral issues, even if seen through a cynical and violent lens. Everyone goes on their own journey here – del Toro will do whatever he has to do to get back at the cartel boss who killed his family.. but how does this young girl fit in – to be used, or protected? Similarly Brolin is resolute at the start that things will inevitably get dirty and the importance of following things through to the end.. but when his friend becomes potential collateral damage, the situation also acts as a catalyst for him to reassess the lines he is willing to cross.

Isabella Moner deserves special mention – as the at first precocious and entitled young lady getting in to fights at school with impunity, becomes all too aware of her vulnerability and observes her terrifying predicament with thoughtful and pragmatic eyes, as she is kidnapped, in the middle of brutal gunfights, exposed to the real fruit of her fathers profession . This is a nuanced performance that goes beyond passive victim and presents someone who you genuinely believe has had a life changing experience.

All in all, this is a gripping thriller – cynical yes, and lacking the artistic directorial flourishes and set pieces of the first movie, but equally as provocative and thoughtful, with outstanding performances all round.

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