Sicario: Day of the Soldado

The original “Sicario” released in 2015 was an amazing well-crafted tale made my Top 10 list that year. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” a follow-up in the “Sicario” saga, finds our anti-heroes played by Oscar-nominated Josh Brolin and Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro, who reprise their roles from the original flick.

Del Toro’s character Alejandro is the muscle of the group, taking out an entire family for their involvement in past indiscretions. Brolin returns as the high-ranking FBI man Matt Graver who is given a blank check to run a no-holds-barred operation. Graver feels more will get done since the federal government has given him approval to do whatever he wants.

Missing is the female lead portrayed by Oscar-nominee Emily Blunt in the original. Instead, the woman with a high position of power is played by Oscar-winner Catherine Keener (“Get Out”). She plays the mean and malicious Cynthia Foards, who does not care about high body counts. She does not care about human life in the very least. To her they are just numbers on a spreadsheet.

Alejandro’s (Del Toro’s) past comes into play when he befriends a Mexican family with a deaf caretaker. Earlier in his life, Alejandro had a daughter who was deaf and he learned how to communicate using sign language.

The directing chores are done by little-known Italian filmmaker Stefano Sollima, who helmed “A.C.A.B.,” “Suburra” and TV’s “Gomorrah.” His lens in “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” perfectly captures the dusty chaos of Mexico with a local shopping mall serving as a backdrop for this fluid and dynamic tale that does not disappoint.

Also returning from the original “Sicario” is screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. He was nominated for an Oscar for his work on “Hell or High Water” in 2016. Sheridan’s script features great wordplay, something I admire in filmmakers like David Mamet, whose superb script for the “The Verdict” was nominated for an Oscar in 1982, and the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, for 2007’s Best Picture winner, “No Country for Old Men.”

This is a great flick because it sets aside normal conventions and offers something that is just plain gritty. What was intriguing in this action-suspense-drama-thriller is that, just when you think the film is going to shift off course, Sollima and Sheridan take you off the beaten path with yet another great “Sicario” tale. Like the “Die Hard” entries, I admire the fact that roman numerals are not featured in the “Sicario” stories.

Grade: B+