I never bought into the hype of the first Sicario, and saw it as a well-directed thriller with a strong central performance from Emily Blunt. Did it need a sequel? Probably not but there’s certainly stories to be found on the drug cartel and the Mexican border.
Josh Brolin reprises his role as federal agent Matt Graver, and is tasked to start a drug war on the border in attempt to stop the cartels trafficking terrorists across to the US. He’s given license by the US government to use any means necessary so he enlists the help of shady operative Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro).
The plot may seem a bit convoluted, silly and backwards, because it is. Many critics have cited the film as right-wing propaganda, which I don’t think it entirely is, but it definitely stretches some racial political narratives to get the ball rolling. And that makes the whole movie a bit uneasy, because spoiler alert, the film kicks off with a terrorist attack in a supermarket. An attack that has no basis in reality, and pretty separate from the rest of the film. So, what was the point exactly? Other than to create some form of ultimate baddie and an excuse for some dirty tactics and killing later on. It felt unneeded. That aside the plot ends up properly straightforward, though quite irritating. There are several moments that have no meaning, as the guys pulling the strings keep going back on themselves. It was frustrating because the film lost all its narrative direction, with the constant starting and stopping.
Despite this director Stefano Sollima does a good job of copying Denis Villeneuve’s style from the first movie, keeping the action sharp and subdued. The action is thrilling and a nice break from the plot nonsense. It’s a gritty movie, with a lot of death, which I wasn’t a massive fan of, but it’s directed well enough to make it pass. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are fine in the major roles, however they are playing very uninteresting characters. They are bad guys, and seem to have no redeemable qualities so I didn’t care about them in the slightest. Even the attempt to give Alejandro (Del Toro) depth didn’t land, because of how astronomically menacing he is. The emotional connect with cartel boss daughter Isabel Reyes (Isabela Moner) was there for a brief moment, but wasn’t written with much detail. It’s amazing that this was penned by Taylor Sheridan, who I like, because the script lacked any sort of weight.
I don’t think the film is offensive because it’s obvious that everyone in the film are bad people, doing bad things and nothing is justified as a necessary evil. However, the film didn’t have the good and idealistic Emily Blunt character to balance it out, or for a reason to be bothered, so it ended up being very dull. Yet dull doesn’t mean boring, and the film wasn’t boring. It has a few exciting scenes, and it’s patiently shot and acted.
Is it worth the price of a cinema ticket?
No, let a whole new host of people make a drug cartel movie that has a point to it.