When four suicide bombers are smuggled into the US by one of the Mexican cartels, the President designates these criminal organisations a terrorist threat. In an effort to weaken the cartels' position, CIA Agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is brought in to start a war between them. Naturally Graver turns to his old ally, lawyer turned sicario Alejandro (Benecio del Toro) for help. The job involves kidnapping Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner), the daughter of one of the cartel leaders, but when things go south Alejandro is forced to choose between his job and the girl.
With Denis Villeneuve busy working on Blade Runner 2049, directing duties fell to Stefano Sollima (Gomorrah) who does a brilliant job picking up where Villeneuve left off. This is thanks in part to Taylor Sheridan, who delivers yet another fantastic script. Not only are his scripts fantastic, they're also incredibly relevant in today's society. Existing in the murky grey area established so well by the first movie, it begs the question; how far is it ok to go, in order to protect your own? Last time Matt and his team were dealing with the drug trade, and the cartels' efforts to get product into the US, this time it's people smuggling. This ugly criminal enterprise is a stark contrast to the incredible scenery in which it takes place. All captured beautifully by Director of Photography Dariusz Wolski (Crimson Tide, The Martian), the man who has the unenviable task of stepping into Roger Deakins' shoes.
Josh Brolin, Benecio del Toro and Jeffrey Donovan easily slip back into the roles they established in Sicario. It's actually a lot of fun to see these three back in action. Matthew Modine and Catherine Keener are more unlikeable as the politician and administrator pulling the strings. And lets not forget Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight) who holds her own opposite del Toro as Isabela Reyes. Moner's character has known wealth and privilege all her life, that combined with knowledge of her father's position has resulted in a lot of arrogance and an air of superiority, all of which is evident in her performance. As horrible as Reyes' ordeal is, it does have a humanising effect on her - and it's fun to watch her get taken down a peg or two.
Whereas Sicario centred on the line between law enforcement and military operation, Day of the Soldado does away with the law enforcement side, taking a page out of the book on the "war on terror". Meaning there's no Emily Blunt (Sicario's FBI Agent Kate Mercer) to act as the group's moral compass, which is where things get interesting. No, this time around Alejandro - a man we know has no qualms about killing children - is the one occupying the moral high ground (kinda). Although we do learn a little about him, he's still very much clouded in mystery. But it's interesting to see a man like that, someone so amoral find his line in the sand and refuse to cross it, no matter what.
Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2 and now Sicario: Day of the Sodado make 2018 an incredible year for Josh Brolin! Although not as good as Sicario, Day of the Soldado is an epic action thriller in its own right. Between the brilliant script with its real world setting, excellent performances and stunning visuals this is on course to being one of the best movies of the year. And the open ending will only leave you wanting more. Lets just hope we won't have to wait another three years for Sicario 3!
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