Director: Stefano Sollima
Starring: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro
Review Author: Tony
Sicario is a bit of a landmark film for me as it was my introduction to one of my favourite new directors to hit the scene, Denis Villenueve as well as one of the best writers working today, Taylor Sheridan. It was a dynamic composition between Sheridan’s layered writing and Villeneuve’s rich storytelling and breathtaking visuals. Sicario is an intense and dreary crime thriller that painted the drug war in the darkest shade of gray you couldn’t help but have a lesser view of humanity by the end credits.
The announcement that a sequel to Sicario was on the horizon left many scratching their heads. The first had a fairly definitive ending and it was the kind of crime thriller that didn’t exactly scream film franchise. The majority of the first film kept Brolin and Del Toro’s motivation in the dark as Emily Blunt’s character was a surrogate for the audience trying to maneuver carefully within their game. One of the best aspects of the original film was the reveal of exactly these character’s intentions and it painted them in an antagonistic light so it’s a little strange to have the sequel focus on these two.
Following a shocking terrorist attack on American soil, the American government suspects Mexican cartels of smuggling the attackers through the border in order to destabilize it. Looking to counter with furious vengeance, The Secretary of Defense gives CIA operative Matt Graver full backing to combat the Mexican Cartels with extreme prejudice. Graver decides the best course of action is to stay incognito and instigate of civil war among the cartels.
The film retains much of the identity of the first film with scenes of high tension and dread and morally bankrupt actions. The new director, Sollima, takes the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach utilizing a lot of the style Villenueve integrated into the first film which works to the film’s advantage as it feels like a continuation rather than lack of originality. The opening scene is one of the most harrowing of the year with an attack on suburban America which is brutally realized and really feeds into right-wing fears. The action is certainly ramped up but never gratuitous, instead Sollima crafts these set pieces with tight and impactful efficiency.
While the film benefits for the first two acts thanks to a typically outstanding Sheridan script, Sollima admitted to heavy rewrites for the third act of the film and it’s pretty evident. The film takes a bit of a turn and moves into a far more linear story which is far less interesting to what proceeded it. Gillick becomes John Matrix, too angry to die. The loss of Blunt makes sense to the story but the absence of a strong female character would have been nice to elevate some of the testosterone on display. It’s a solid film and a pretty interesting continuation of the story but there’s a hockey ending that feels tacked on in the final minutes to leave the door open for future sequels.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Shots of Tequila