In the original Sicario (2015) by Denis Villeneuve, American law enforcers battled the drug cartels of Mexico, to stop the flow of narcotics into the US. It is an ugly war, and both sides are corrupt and brutal.
Perhaps taking off from all the noise in the US, about human trafficking across the border, the sequel, Day Of The Soldado, directed by Stephano Sollima and written by Taylor Sheridan, adds another dimension to the general hysteria over illegal immigrants; the Mexican drug gangs are smuggling terrorists into America — there is some suicide-bombing at the start to set off this paranoia.
The response to this new danger has to be a violent “No Rules” fight to the finish — or at least till the next film in the franchise is ready. This is modern ‘cowboy’ territory-violent, ruthless, lawless, ruggedly macho. The idealistic FBI agent played by Emily Blunt in the last film has been dropped, as if to signal that this tar pit is no place for women.
“The president is adding drug cartels to the list of terrorist organisations,” says the secretary of defence (Matthew Modine, and gets CIA operative Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to return and take them on with a go-ahead to do what it takes.
The plan requires the involvement of the feral operative Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), and the kidnapping of the 12-year-old daughter (Isabela Moner) of cartel boss Carlos Reyes, and making it look as if the rival Matamoros mob was behind it, thus triggering off gang wars. Reyes was the one who had ordered the killing of Alejandro’s wife and family, so there is a personal axe to grind. But he decides to protect the child and shows an unexpected human side.
No matter how well films like Sicario (1 & 2) are made, there is something formulaic about them, and after a point, there is no entertainment to be derived from chases, gunfights, killing, cruelty and thinly-veiled jingoism of the Rambo variety. Just watching the charismatic Benicio Del Toro is worth the running time of this film, Brolin cannot compare, and the other characters are more ‘types’ than people. A few days later, most viewers will mix up this and the many other films of the same kind in the heads.