‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ hits the bullseye
“Murder is only killing without a license” – Charles Bronson as “Arthur Bishop” in The Mechanic (1972)
“Colonel Kurtz”: “I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?”
“Captain Willard”: “I’m a soldier.”
“Colonel Kurtz”: “You’re neither. You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.” – Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now
“Luca Brasi.” “Jason Bourne.” “Leon.” “Nikita.” “Beatrix Kiddo.” “Mitch Leary.”
Just some of the many assassins we’ve been introduced to in films over the last five decades. Three years ago we met “Alejandro” (Benecio Del Toro – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Last Jedi) in Sicario. We were also introduced to “Matt Graver” (Josh Brolin – Hail, Caesar!) who is a CIA agent known for getting things done no matter what.
Two incidents involving, one at the US/Mexican border and the other at a Kansas City superstore; results in the President adding the Mexican drug cartels to the list of terrorist organizations. This is because they are smuggling terrorists over the border as part of their growing trade in people versus drugs. The Secretary of Defense, ‘James Riley” (Matthew Modine – The Dark Knight Rises) and “Cynthia Foards” (Catherine Keener – Captain Phillips) give Garver his marching orders. He comes up with a plan to start a war between the cartels by kidnapping “Isabela Reyes” (Isabela Moner – Transformers: The Last Knight). She is the daughter of the leader of the Reyes cartel and the plan is to make it look like she was taken by a rival cartel. That Alejandro has past issues with the Reyes cartel makes this a bit more interesting.
The kidnap goes fine. They use a bit of deception to make Isabela believe she was rescued from the kidnappers by law enforcement. After she spends some time at a US military base in Texas, the plan is to return her to the Mexican police. But the vehicles of Alejandro, Matt and their team are ambushed by the Mexican police escorting them in. During the firefight, more than a dozen of the Mexican police officers are killed; and Isabela runs away. Alejandro tells Matt to take the rest of the team north to safety and he will find the girl. The plan is that once he gets near the border, Matt will arrange their safe extraction.
The problem is that the President has shut down the op due to the publicity generated by the firefight. Secretary Riley and Ms Foards tell Matt to wipe the record clean, a euphemism for killing Isabela and Alejandro. This raises questions. Can Matt bring himself to kill Alejandro, after all he went through to create the perfect sicario that he’s become. Considering the fact that her father ordered the murder of Alejandro’s family, will he bring the girl to safety?
Director Stefano Sollima took Taylor Sheridan’s script and characters and built on the work of Denis Villeneuve from the first movie. The violence is graphic, but drives the story forward. It is illustrative of the utter disregard for human life that these drug cartels seem to have. Benecio del Toro and Josh Brolin are both excellent and Isabela Moner also gives a nice performance. She may be 17 years of age but she pulls off portraying a 12 year old perfectly. The end is a strong tease that there will be another Sicario film in the future and that is something to look forward to.