Sicario: Day of the Soldado Review - A High Powered, Bad Ass, Mercenary Thriller

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado, from Sony Pictures Entertainment, picks up the story of the dirty deeds mercenary and his team as they weed out the strengthening Mexican cartels by instigating an inner cartel war with disastrous results.

Directed by Stefano Sollima, and written by Taylor Sheridan, Sicario: Day of the Soldado stars Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Matthew Modine, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Shea Whigham, Elijah Rodriguez, Howard Ferguson Jr., David Castaneda, Faysal Ahmed, and Bruno Bichir.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado begins with what appears to a common round up of Mexican illegals attempting to cross over the US border. With air support providing night vision we see a man attempting to escape the circling border patrol. As he is approached we see a self-detonation device in his hand and in one moment, what was thought to be a normal night raid, became an international terrorist situation.

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After this incident and the possibility of terrorists finding a door into the US the film moves to Kansas City as four men walk into a national drugstore chain and in succession blow themselves up in coordinated suicide bombings striking terror in the heartland.

In response to these actions Secretary of Defense James Riley, played by Matthew Modine, addresses the nation speaking the appropriate words to assure the people the full weight of the US government and every resource will be employed to find those responsible and hold them accountable.

At this point we meet Matt Graver, played by Josh Brolin, who, fresh from a mercenary ordered attack on a third world pirate who is paid to allow certain ships carrying terrorists safe passage to Mexico, is now meeting with the Secretary of Defense and his fixer, Cynthia Foards, played by Catherine Kenner.

After an up to speed brief, the objective for the meeting becomes clear: Graver is called in to create a war between the cartels with the illusions of an attempt by a smaller cartel to carve out more territory and destroy the hierarchy. With a greenlight and treasury funding he sets out to build his team outfitting them with all the technologically advanced war toys money can buy.

Heading south of the border, he pulls his team from past missions and Alejandro, played by Benicio Del Toro, is trusted, with a vendetta and not exactly one to follow the rules. The two work well together. And on this mission as Graver explains he is given a early Christmas present and with no limits he is finally presented with the chance to begin to exact revenge, payback, for the drug cartel leader who had his family killed.

After an easy hit on the money man, the team along with Steve Forsing, played by Jeffrey Donovan, move in on the extraction target, Isabel Reyes, played by Isabela Moner, the daughter of the Cartel kingpin. As it is Mexico, everyone, from the garbage man to the police, the federalist, are on one of the cartel’s payroll. This time it’s the police.

With Isabel abducted, and the cartels believing an inner-cartel war is exploding, the team, still working under the objective of finding out who is smuggling the terrorists into the US and who, if anyone, paves the road for them.

Action packed up to this point, Sicario: Day of the Soldado increases the pace with heightened suspense and mid objective order changes which create the pushback struggles. Besides being purely entertaining, Sicario is a kick-ass, high body count, modern day Mexico, cartel dominated, US impotent, mercenary flick. What’s not to like?

With powerhouse performances led by Benicio Del Toro who has more of a physical role in this film and delivers the strong, tough, killer and tenderhearted solider and Josh Brolin, whose role is one of struggling internally against an administration that essentially has no idea what boots on the ground and start a war really means has to make real time decisions life or death decisions. The struggle is palpable.

Isabel Moner was equally impressive and delivers a stand out performance. Even as her best scenes may have been in the school yard fight and her escape in the middle of a gun battle when her physiciality portrays the terror of the moment.

As much as she plays the tough daughter of a drug cartel kingpin, she is essentially a Cartel Princess enjoying the life of ill gotten means and unaccustomed to the merciless evil. Her captivity and silent transformation from arrogant, unfeeling and cold to dependent and caring came across well. 

Op/Ed: Mexico – The New Syria

Special mention to the amazing supporting cast and secondary story actors. On a film of this scale without everyone, the immigrants, the federalists in masks and full face tactical gear, the unseen players all bringing an authenticity to the situation makes Sciario believeable. Also to Bruno Bichir, who plays Angel

Sicario: Day of the Soldado, the second from screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, continues to bring a fresh voice to the current and heightening undeclared Mexican Civil War.

With the murder rate rising, and smuggling at a all time high, the nation is struggling to maintain democratic principles and Sheridan takes these elements and presents sharp dialogue, heightened stakes and internal struggles against a very real enemy.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is playing in theaters everywhere. See it.

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