Review: Sicario 2 is an absorbing, gritty thriller

Sicario 2 Soldado

Sicario 2 Soldado - Credit: Archant

Sicario 2: Soldado, the sequel to 2015’s outstanding Sicario, sees Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro return as CIA agent Matt Graver and hitman Alejandro Gillick to once again do battle with the drug cartels of Mexico.

With the American government clamping down on the criminal cartels south of the border, CIA fixer Graver (Brolin) is brought in with a brief to destabilise the organisations and make them easier to combat.

To do this, he enlists Del Toro’s lawyer turned hitman Alejandro to kidnap a cartel boss’s daughter and turn the gangs against each other.

The film is again written by the talented Taylor Sheridan but Italian Stefan Sollima takes over directing duties from Denis Villeneuve.

Emily Blunt doesn’t return either, but the film is more of a spin off than direct sequel, focusing on the further exploits of Graver and Gillick and not requiring any prior knowledge of the the first film’s events.

The film has a similar plot to the original, but as the title Soldado (Spanish for soldier) suggests, it has a wider scope and focuses more on the strong arm military tactics employed by the United States rather than the secretive operations adopted in the first film.

This time, Graver is taking orders from Katherine Keener’s government operative Cynthia, who answers directly to Matthew Modine’s secretary of defence.

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The heavyweight cast are all impressive and both Brolin and Del Toro are given more screen time to flex their acting muscles.

But it is newcomer Isabela Moner who really steals the show.

Her turn as Isabel, daughter of crime lord Carlos Reyes, is a real star making performance. Her ability to believably portray so many different emotions, marks her out as an actress to watch.

The film is beautifully shot with an ominous thumping soundtrack that lends itself perfectly to the film’s dark themes.

It retains much of the charm of the original, but does miss the moral compass of Emily Blunt’s FBI agent Kate Macer, which made the original so engrossing.

Nonetheless, Sicario 2 is a thoroughly absorbing, gritty thriller set in a bleak and morally dubious world, with themes that are extremely pertinent today.