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Posted at: Jul 6, 2018, 7:36 PM; last updated: Jul 6, 2018, 7:36 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO

Doesn’t hit where it hurts

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Film: Sicario: Day of the Soldado

  • Director: Stefano Sollima
  • Cast: Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin , Isabela Moner as Isabela Reyes and Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Forsing, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Catherine Keener
Doesn’t hit where it hurts
Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Nonika Singh

Expecting a sequel to be as good as the original outing is perhaps a foolhardy thought. Especially when it changes its winning combination, drops one of its winning actors (Emily Blunt) as well as the director. So, it comes as no surprise that exceptionally well-made Sicario does not create the same lasting impression in its second avatar.

Indeed, Sicario 2, like its prequel, is taut and compelling, even if in parts, and is shot amazingly well. The barren landscapes, the long winding roads enhance the underlying grimness of the narrative. Topped by some crisp clean dialogues, the action mostly remains on the US Mexico border. Human trafficking is the bane of the US and its dirty tricks department this time over. If Sicario laid bare the underbelly of drug cartels here, the focus is on illegal immigration that also it purports leads to terrorism. The initial rushes involving terror attacks build a tenuous link between trafficking and terrorism, in the process fuelling some expected stereotypes, if not outright Islamophobia.

Indeed, on the issue of migration, it does not take a high moral ground and nor does it cave in completely to US President Trump’s world view on the subject. The lack of moral centre explains the director is the reason why Blunt, whose character of the FBI agent was the moral compass in Sicario, is not part of the second outing.

Indeed, there are no easy answers to complex issues involving human migration. Depending on your politics you will see what you want to and agree or disagree with its political core.

Beyond the politics of it all, of course, there is an intriguing plot. To trigger a cartel war, one of the two principal characters CIA agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) suggests one should go for the prince rather than the king of the cartel. He and hired operative Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), kidnap the kingpin’s daughter Isabela Ryes (Isabela Moner). As she is whisked away to the US what you get are some edge of the seat moments as well some interesting turn of events. But before the plot to use her as a pawn reaches its full potential, it goes awry a tad sooner than expected. The one sobering thought of course is the treatment meted out to her. Is she the collateral damage or embodies ray of hope for humanity? Well, her abductor becomes her benefactor of sorts and the film pitches enough tension to carry you forth.

However, if the prequel closed on a climatic high, this ends on a tamer note and leaves room for guess what yet another sequel. Only as and when it comes through we are not quite looking forward to it. 

That is not to say that Sicario 2 is not watchable… Laced with some fine performances both Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin are in top form. Without a doubt Emily Blunt is missed. But Isabelle the female presence in this almost all-male universe makes up.  If she is fierce in her opening shot caught in a catfight in her school, she mirrors the changing shades of her character from fear to resignation to understanding aptly. 

If neatly executed action packs a punch so do the pungent dialogues. Catherine Keener as Cynthia Foards, Graver’s superior says, “If you think change is the goal… you have been here long enough to know.” And cine-buffs, we bet, have watched long enough to preempt certain sequences especially those involving death of a certain protagonist. Only don’t be conned into watching this 2D film in 4D format. The rocking of the chair does little to enhance the cinematic experience which anyway is not all too encompassing. To cut it short, this Sicario which in Spanish means hit-man may not miss its mark completely yet does not hit home with as solid an impact either. 

nonikasingh@tribunemail.com

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