America has decided to recategorise the Mexican Cartels as terrorist organisations and Sicario 2 quickly morphs from the war on drugs to the war on terror. Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is given free rein to start a conflict between the cartels and uses his asset Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) to help him.
I rated Sicario as my 3rd favourite film of 2015. It was a tense, exciting and eye-opening insight into law enforcement on the border. It also featured a fantastic lead performance from Emily Blunt, which showed an idealist slowly being drained of her spirit as she delved deeper down the rabbit hole. So it was with some trepidation that I approached a sequel that no longer had Director Denis Villeneuve, Director of Photography Roger Deakins or lead actress Emily Blunt. Thankfully though this is successful on its own terms without reaching the peaks the original did.
I’ll start by saying that it’s best asset is that it retains the bleakness and intensity of the original. There are numerous scenes where bullets are flying and you will be glued to the screen awaiting the outcome. A convoy ambush is possibly the most tense and well executed action scene this year. It is also as political as the first film, this time making a very clear correlation with current political times shifting focus from drugs to immigration via people trafficking and the war on terror. Del Toro and Brolin slip back into their roles with ease and convince as the hitman and handler with tiny glimmers of a soul.
Where it has flaws though are in it’s comparison to the first. There is no focal point of hope via Emily Blunt’s FBI agent, everyone here is grizzled and battle scarred. And unfortunately nothing quite looks as beautiful as a film shot by Roger Deakins. It also fumbles what could and probably should have been an even more brutal ending for the possibility of a trilogy.
I’ll be interested in what that third film might be called because after Sicario (Hitman) and Soldado (Soldier) it has a lot to live up to.