Review / ‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ (MA) ***

Benicio Del Toro in “Sicario: Day of the Soldad”… Its tensions are strong and its action is vigorous.

THIS is a sort-of sequel to director Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 actioner about a somewhat clandestine US government agency tasked to eradicate bad behaviour south of the border along which Donald Trump wants to raise a fence to stop illegals from entering the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Directing the sequel is Stefano Sollima, whose filmography is mainly episodes of Italian TV series. The screenplay for both versions is the work of Taylor Sheridan. Some say that both versions use the same screenplay.

So what’s the difference? Not a lot. But that’s not to deny the dramatic worth of either. The sequel is another blood-and-thunder journey along a Hollywoodian path well travelled by Uncle Sam’s crime-prevention services. Both versions have Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro playing the same characters. Good guys. Brave. Committed to their duties. On the side of the angels, although neither character shows much compunction about the pain, suffering and even mortality that they periodically deliver to bad guys.

This time, chief field agent Graver (Josh Brolin) persuades the Defence Department that the way to stop badness is to set the Mexican criminal cartels at each other’s throats. Tagging along is Alejandro (Del Toro) with a private agenda crying for vengeance. And Alejandro is one very tough hombre, surviving a bullet in his head that’s been wrapped in duct tape and escaping his bonds and copious blood loss to walk to the highway and succour.

The girl this time is Isabel, the 16-year-old daughter of the chief of the Reyes cartel. Played by Isabela Moner, this kid endures a lot, much of it unpleasant.

As actionist escapism, this sequel delivers fair average quality. Its tensions are strong. Its action is vigorous. Its issues are straightforward. We are entitled to wonder when the next sequel will arrive, who will direct it and whether Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay will get dusted off again. If it works, why try to fix it?

At all cinemas

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