October 1, 2018  (Web Review)

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Sony, 122 min., R, DVD: $30.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99, Oct. 2

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

With no Emily Blunt as the FBI agent who was the conscience of the 2015 original, this somber, savage sequel comes across as amoral and ultraviolent, albeit timely, given the zero-tolerance escalation of the U.S. immigration crisis. The story begins with illegal Mexican immigrants attempting to cross into the United States. When the Border Patrol stops one man at gunpoint, he detonates an explosive vest. Cut to ISIS terrorists blowing up a store in Kansas City, MO. Josh Brolin reprises his role as compromised CIA operative Matt Graver, taking cues from his handler (Catherine Keener) and the Secretary of Defense (Matthew Modine), who notes, “The President is adding drug cartels to the list of terrorist organizations.” Also back is Benicio del Toro as enigmatic Alejandro Gillick, Matt’s secret-ops ally who is after the “bad hombres” who smuggle Islamic terrorists across the border. A misguided plan is forged to kidnap and rescue a cartel kingpin’s bratty daughter (Isabela Moner) in order to incite a war between two Mexican drug syndicates. But the scheme backfires when her father seems willing to sacrifice the troublesome teenager as collateral damage. And that leaves vengeful Alejandro in the desert, torn between the CIA’s order to eliminate the girl and his deepest paternal instincts. A subplot involves a Mexican-American youth (Elijah Rodriguez) with relatives on both sides of the border, who joins a gang of human traffickers. Director Stefano Sollima tries to mask the misguided, muddled, double-crossing storytelling with amped-up action. Optional. (S. Granger)