I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that Taylor Sheridan is the best writer in Hollywood bar none right now. He wrote my favorite film of 2015 Sicario, he wrote one of my favorite films of 2016 Hell or High Water, and now he has written my favorite film of the year thus far Sicario: Day of the Soldado. What better time than the current political climate to release a film about government political wars, Mexican drug cartels, and human trafficking? The thing about Taylor Sheridan films is that the subject matter is usually ripped from the realms of reality, meaning while the films are always authentic that doesn’t mean that they are for the weak of heart.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado begins with Islāmic terrorists who commit a suicide bombing at a Kansas City department store. The United States government believes the terrorists used the Mexican border to sneak into the country and they are now ready to list Mexican Drug Cartels as foreign terrorists. Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) are back to create a war amongst cartels. But after a false flag operation goes belly up, Matt, Alejandro, and the government are on opposite sides of a political chess game that puts the life of the teenage daughter of a cartel leader at risk along with a long-standing relationship between CIA operatives.
One of Sheridan’s best assets as a writer is his ability to make you feel for everyone in a film even if what they are doing is on the morally wrong side of the table. When dealing with deep covert government agencies and their enemies, the dynamic of the good guy/bad guy goes out the window. The brutal reality that this movie presents shows that to get the job done, you have to get dirty, even if is against what you want.
There are no wasted characters in this film. Josh Brolin is back as the flip-flop wearing CIA operative who is the guy you call when the mission needs to get done by any means necessary. Benicio Del Toro also returns as the charismatic hitmen who is given the task of getting the daughter of a brutal cartel leader into the United States before a rival cartel or the CIA can get to her first. Isabela Moner who plays Isabela Reyes has one of the most pivotal roles in the film. The film makes no bones about how evil her dad is but maintains her innocence as a teenager caught in the middle of a political war.
Another trope that returns in this film is Sheridan focuses on a character who seemly has no connection to the main plot of the film, but ends up playing a critical role in the climax of the film. Here you feel for this character despite the fact they are heading down a path of no return. Outside of a few characters, there is no clear villain or hero leaving the audience to make the judgment on whose side of the argument they stand on, which makes his films more relatable to a wider audience because everyone will have different reactions to each character and cast different judgment.
Sicario 2 may look like an action film, but it is much more of a suspenseful thriller that will leave you guessing until the end. The slow buildup of the story will grip your interest and keep you wondering what will happen next until the credit begins to roll. Much credit to director Stefano Sollima as well who brings to life Sheridan’s vision and keep the tone of the first film intact. Sicario 2 is very much on par with the original and all I have to say is that if they do a third film, especially if Emily Blunt makes a return, you can shut up and take my money.