Sicario 2: Soldado - A tale for these times
Here in EuropeLand, this film is being marketed as Sicario 2: Soldado clearly indicating that this film is a sequel to 2015's Sicario, starring Emily Blunt. Is the US, this film is being marketed as Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Quite why there are two differing title is lost on me. Normally producers or distributors change the name in a particular country because it clashes with another film or popular title. For example Avengers Assemble was known simply as Avengers in most territories. Here is was changed so as not to confuse the film with the John Steed, Emma Peel TV series.
The film opens with a tense scene of refugees attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. We soon find out that a terrorist is among them. The action then moves to Kansas City where a number of terrorists blowing themselves up in a supermarket and we're told that the most profitable thing to smuggle across the US-Mexican border is not drugs anymore but people, and terrorists. This human trafficking is controlled by Mexican cartels. A lot of this early exposition feeds into the political narratives of today and it'snot hard to imagine some US audiences coming away convinced that they really do need a wall.
FBI agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) calls on mysterious operative Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) to help him start a war between the cartels, the theory being if they are fighting themselves then the cross-border business slows down. The war escalates even further when Alejandro kidnaps a top kingpin's daughter to deliberately increase the tensions. Their fates become intertwined as motives begin to be questioned and the humanity of the situation is made clear.
Its good to see Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro back together. They work well. There is no Emily Blunt this time and the film is a little poorer for it. It is not as good as the first Sicario film. It is more laddish and the characters are not as well defined. There are too many stereotypes. It's not a bad film. It's just not as good as the first.
I suspect there is a third in the works.