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  1. Published on: 29/07/2018 12:09 PMReported by: Film Critic
    Plot: The drug-war on the U.S-Mexico border turns into human trafficking. This results in federal agents begin planning a civil war between the cartels.

    This sequel is certainly not one anyone was initially expecting?

    The first Sicario back in 2015 was a really well directed crime drama with top performances and some amazing cinematography by Roger Deakins. It was directed by the brilliant Denis Villeneuve, and his style certainly enhanced the viewing experience along with the top performances by Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, who for many people including myself stole the show.

    But this one is without Villeneuve and Blunt. The reasons for not having Blunt in this makes sense, as her character was basically playing the audience and being introduced into this world. Now that is done, there was no need for her character to be in there. As for not having Villeneuve, I was already going in with expectations of it not being as good as the first film.

    But a part of me remained hopeful as writer Taylor Sheridan came back, and I see him as one of the best writers working in the film industry right now.

    The first half is really well put together. The set-up is intriguing and the story well and made me excited for how it was all going to turn out. There are were also some well executed action sequences that reminded me of Hell Or High Water, which is another film that Sheridan wrote a few years ago.

    Then something happens in the second act that lost me and went down a totally different route. There were decisions made by the characters that confused me and I wasn't sure if there had been a betrayal somewhere and if people had switched sides. It almost became a completely new story. The end of the final act had parts that shocked me and had me intrigued but also partly unfulfilled at the same time as to how they left it.

    There were three stand-out performances. Benicio Del Toro continues to be a bad-*** in the sequel and for me is still the best part of this newly formed franchise. You truly believe that he is playing a stone-cold killer that is very hard to get rid of. Also, his chilling delivery of his lines will never get boring.

    Isabel Moner was a great addition to the film. She felt like a breathe of fresh air, gave us a strong and capable character and had good chemistry with Del Toro throughout.

    Josh Brolin was a strong and solid lead and finished what was a pretty good 2018 for him.

    A brief mention to Catherine Keener who played a small role in this. It was to see her involved in this film series, even though she felt under-used for me.

    While the film may have lost Roger Deakins, the camerawork by replacement Dariusz Wolski is still one of the films biggest strengths. It's obviously not as strong as Deakins' work, but Wolski gave us many wonderful desert landscape shots that just added to the brutality of the story.

    Also, the score by Hildur Gudnadottir built the tension well and followed on from the tone used in the original film by the late Johann Johannsson.

    The only weakness to mention have already been stated earlier in my review. Some of the choices made during the second act lost the flow of the film for me. Plus, almost everything just lacked the style Villeneuve and his team created in the first installment.

    To conclude, I kind of got what I expected. You don't get the same impact or smart story-telling from the first one. However, what I liked was that there is still enough brutal content in there that will shock you, make you tense and make it worthwhile viewing. It's made with great efficiency and has good re-watchability.

    The tone and vibe almost felt like crime drama's of the 1970's. That grungy colour palette this film had would fit perfectly into that era of films.

    You really get that sense of paranoia that is totally relatable in the real-world situations of this particular topic the film is covering.

    It is a story that we have seen multiple times in crime dramas. But I think the strong writing and development, well executed tension and high-quality performances certainly makes this above average at best when you compare it to films covering the same topic.

    The film does leave it open for a third chapter. I will be checking out how they move this story forward or possibly conclude it. Was it a sequel that we needed, not sure. But was it a worthy sequel? It's certainly better than most and any film that is better than you expect gets a thumbs up any day of the week.

    Rating: 7/10
     

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