Del Toro steals show in sequel
The first Sicario flick was such an exceptionally well made tour-deforce it was my pick for best film of 2015.
It also ended in definitive fashion which suggested a one-and-done story that left a bruising, unforgettable lasting impact.
But here we are, just three years later, facing up to another tale of the relentless drug war on the US-Mexico border which this time sees the cartels trafficking terrorists.
Denis Villeneuve, who did such a phenomenal job behind the camera on the first movie, is replaced by Italian director Stefano Sollima (TV’s Gomorrah).
It’s not all change, however, as Taylor Sheridan once again scripts the action and Josh Brolin’s federal agent Matt Graver and Benicio Del Toro’s gun-for-hire Alejandro are back in business.
There’s no return for Emily Blunt, though, and one thing this follow-up lacks is the innocence and audience-guiding presence Blunt so expertly supplied in its predecessor.
Fortunately it’s missing little else as, while inevitably coming up short when compared to the seminal original, Sicario 2 is a sequel that not only justifies its existence but works extremely well in its own right.
Like the first film, we kick things off with a hyper-tense sequence that sets the taut tone, this time centred around a suicide bombing.
Anyone looking for laughs and fist-pumping moments among murky morals and evil deeds would be better off going to see Avengers: Infinity War one more time as Sicario 2 is tough viewing.
Beyond Isabela Moner’s (Isabel Reyes) innocent victim caught in the cross-fire, there are no redeemable souls as every face-to-face discussion or confrontation is dripping with sarcasm, anger, dread or a combination of all three.
Given the seriousness of the life-or-death subject matter, though, Sheridan’s script is justified in its downbeat, relentless approach; this is realistic – and essential – modern storytelling.
Del Toro was arguably the best performer in the first flick and he steals the show once again, while Sheridan thankfully doesn’t flesh out the mystery of his character very much.
Sollima wisely takes cues from Villeneuve by ensuring this sequel looks impressive; he and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski utilise sunlight, darkness, sand and close-knit camera work to elevate what is a relatively simple story to new heights.
What is lacking, however, is Johann Johannsson’s masterful score; Hildur Guðnadóttir’s musical accompaniments don’t register the same pulseracing dread.
The climax also feels slightly jarring as, unlike its predecessor, the aim seems to be to set up another follow-up and turn this into a trilogy.
I doubt the original intention of Sicario would have even entertained the notion of sequel-baiting.
Sharpshooter Del Toro’s troubled Alejandro is back