Although this won’t be my top film of this year – like the original was my Film of the Year for 2015 – it could still end up in my Top Ten.
Rookie mainstream director Stefano Sollima does a top-notch job in retaining the dark and gritty tone of Denis Villeneuve’s first film, and with that seamless transition makes this a bonafide sequel that recaptures the truly noteworthy aura that made the high-octane crime-drama a sleeper hit three years ago.
Lead stars Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects) and Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2) both return – with Emily Blunt’s character sitting this one out – as undercover operative Alejandro Gillick and top CIA ‘fixer’ agent Matt Graver, respectively.
Acclaimed Sicario, Wind River and Hell or High Water writer Taylor Sheridan returns to scribe this screenplay with the drug war on the US-Mexico border escalating with cartels now trafficking terrorists from the African continent.
And after a suicide bomb attack in Kansas City, one of the terrorists is linked to the cartels, and Graver – who then recruits Gillick – is given carte blanche by Matthew Modine’s Secretary of Defence to get ‘dirty’ to send a message that such actions won’t be tolerated.
This leads to the kidnapping of a top cartel mob boss’s daughter Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner) – which is then staged as a rescue to make it look like she was kidnapped by her father’s enemies – but when things go south after a bloody shoot-out with crooked Mexican cops, Graves is ordered to execute her to eliminate proof of American involvement.
Fortunately Isabela is in Gillick’s hands after tracking her down after she went AWOL after the gunfight, and when Graves tells him to eliminate her – he refuses.
This leads to a game of ‘cat and mouse’ as Gillick tries to get Isabela back over the border to safety under the noses of rival cartels – who want her dead – and top American government forces.
And despite this lacking the intrigue and refinement of Villeneuve’s more coherently-polished original, this laudably stands up as a rewardingly-tense follow up that commendably follows the Sicario storyline with some accomplishment.
Brolin notably gets a more prominent role as his Graver character is fleshed-out – but it’s Del Toro’s hitman once again that really hits the target for this refreshingly niche crime series.
CAST: BENICIO DEL TORO, JOSH BROLIN, ISABELA MONER, JEFFREY DONOVAN, CATHERINE KEENER, MANUEL GARCIA-RULFO, ELIJAH RODRIGUEZ, DAVID CASTANEDA & SHEA WHIGHAM
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 2 MINS
DIRECTOR: STEFANO SOLLIMA
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