You have to wonder if the current political situation in the US, will help or hinder Sicario 2 at the box office (Spoiler, it didn’t). The situation over the Mexican border is the setting for the follow up to Sicario, as we follow FBI agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) in his efforts to start a cartel war in Mexico, with the help of Benici Del Toro, reprising roles from the first feature. Emily Blunt is sadly missing from the production, however it seems director Stefano Sollima felt her story had been fully explored in the first film.
The film itself is a dark and violent production, from the opening scenes of people being trafficked across the border to a terrorist bombing in a US supermarket, the tone is suitably set for a grueling 2 hour screenplay, that draws you in and leaves you breathless at it’s climax. Perhaps Sollima lacks the visual flair of Denis Villeneuve that handled directorial chores on the first film, but in all honesty, this second entry relied very little on it’s predecessor. Luckily the screenplay is by Taylor Sheridan, who knows the two lead characters very well, and gives them plenty of substance to work with on screen.
As Brolin escalates his plan to destabilize the drug and trafficking cartels by kidnapping the daughter of of one of the major players, events start to spiral out of control into areas that the POTUS eventually decides he wants nothing to do with. The political aspirations are controversial, but as you watch events unfold, you begin to wonder how much of this is based on the real operations in these areas, and the motivations behind them. It’s a moral minefield, and as an audience we are left to our own devices on what to think, and that’s credit to the team behind this film that must have know they were on perilous ground. Things never become preachy or over stated, we are given the facts and then we watch events move forward.
We are also shown what transpires through the eyes of not just the two leads, but from different characters that are entwined in the web being spun, and all these threads lead to satisfying payoffs, with one exception, that I don’t want to spoil for you, but if you see the movie you will figure it out yourself.
The action scenes are fine, here, but it’s not a film that glorifies in set pieces. The violence is sudden and grisly, often casual to the point of disbelief, and there’s a couple of moments that are tense and hard to watch. The atmosphere is one of despair and distrust, and you wonder if anyone is coming out of the last reel intact. If you enjoy these Homeland style thrillers, then this is a definite must see. The actors are all as expected, the story is layered and engaging and everything looks pretty much like you would expect. It’s a solid and brave film, and that should be applauded, and it would not surprise me to hear news of a 3rd entry in the franchise.