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From left: Josh Brolin, Jeffrey Donovan and Benicio Del Toro in Sicario: Day of the Soldado (category IIB; English, Spanish), directed by Stefano Sollima.

Review | Sicario: Day of the Soldado film review – Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin return in riveting action sequel

  • Day of the Soldado is relentlessly grim and should be a hit with action fans
  • 17-year-old Isabela Moner is particularly convincing as a kidnapped teen

3.5/5 stars

Sicario, which was released in 2015, was a superlative action thriller that revolved around an age-old moral conundrum: is it justifiable to do the wrong thing to get the right result? Sicario: Day of the Soldado, again written by Taylor Sheridan but returning without director Denis Villeneuve and star Emily Blunt, dispenses with philosophy in favour of all-out action.

Sicario review: Denis Villeneuve’s gripping drug war thriller is close to perfect

Although the moral angle is noticeably missing, this sequel by Suburra director Stefano Sollima does what it does extremely well and should be a hit with action fans. While Day of the Soldado is relentlessly grim, any film that deals with Mexico’s cruel and violent gangs can’t avoid that.

The new film brings back Special Ops officer Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and undercover operative Gillick (Benicio del Toro) in a story that merges terrorism with smuggling: Islamic suicide bombers blow up a supermarket in Kansas, and it seems like the terrorists entered the US through Mexico.

The government wants to disrupt the Mexican cartels’ cross-border activities and decides to kidnap Isabel (Isabela Moner), the teenage daughter of a drug baron, and blame it on a rival gang. That will start a war to make the cartels wipe each other out. But things go wrong from the start, and Gillick must figure out how to get Isabel to the US without starting a major diplomatic incident with Mexico.

The nub of the story is similar to the first film – that the US is conducting activities on Mexican soil, and must not be discovered doing so. Seventeen-year-old Moner, who plays the kidnapped teen, has previously performed in children’s series, but she bears the disturbing treatment her character takes with ease in a thoroughly convincing performance.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado opens on November 1

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