‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’: Solid action, disturbing politics (Review)

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Film: “Sicario: Day Of The Soldado”; Director: Stefano Sollima; Cast: Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner; Rating: **1/2

In that dark No Man’s Land between the US and Mexico, the contraband movement is dense dark and deathly. There have been a number of films shedding light on that area of darkness. But none as skilfully nimble and athletic as this.

“Sicario: Day Of The Soldado” virtually drags us into the bloodied savage world of drug cartels in Mexico, so virulently operational in the US that the US government is now forced to take underhand action to control the menace.

Josh Brolin, who is being celebrated the world over for his magnificent antagonism as Thanos in the Marvel movies, here reprises his role from the first “Sicario” film in 2015, as government agent Matt Graver who teams up with his Mexican friend Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), a grey-zoned gun-slinger from Mexico to curtail the cartels.

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Without giving away more of the plot, suffice it to say that a young rebellious Mexican heiress from the drug empire is kidnapped by the very people who are employed to protect citizens.

The film treads a dangerous moral ground with no remorse or apology. The light of dawn and the gathering musk of dusk are seen in the same line of vision. The background score (Hildur Guonadottir) sounds like the pounding sound that your neighbour deliberately makes to keep you awake when you are dozing off.

Not that this film ever slows down enough to let us catch our breath.

It tells us in harsh jolting tones how and why desperate times call for desperate measures. In spreading out the blueprint of savagery, the Italian director Stefano Sollima spares us none of the unsavoury visuals of bloodshed. We are living in violent times. And this is a violent film, suffused in a sanguinary rage that implodes into sharply shot shoot-out sequences that put the aggression in Sam Peckinpah’s cinema to shame.

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The core of the plot converges on Bernicio del Toro’s burgeoning rapport with the young girl Isabela (Isabela Moner, strongly defiant) who plays his hostage. Their relationship reminded me of James Mangold’s “Logan”. But this film for all its stylish violence, lacks the soulful emotional bedrock of “Logan”.

There is a ruthless professionalism in the way the actors (minus Emily Blunt who was in the first “Sicario” film) handle their guns and emotions, maneuvering both through a craggy gauntlet of tricky trajectories that led to a deadend, in more ways than one.

The character of the a Mexican boy Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez) being tutored into an assassin’s life, remains unexplained till the weary end when we finally know he is coming back in the next film of the franchise.

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Do I want to see it? Yes, and no. While the thought of knowing what happens to these displaced characters intrigues me, sitting through a battered and bloodied battlefield of raging brutality one more time may not be the best way to find spiritual nirvana in the coming years.

–IANS

skj/rb/vm

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