Immoral choices: a Review of ‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’

The Plot: The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro. Available on SHOWTIME.

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: It is nearly impossible to watch “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” without the current political relationship between the United States and Mexico on your mind. As US citizens, we’ve come to believe that Mexico is an unruly place controlled by drug cartels, corrupt cops, and a political system unwilling or unable to stop any of it. All this leads to the greatest humanitarian crisis in North America as thousands flee their homeland for a better life. As they enter the US, they are faced with a harsh reality. This country is divided and unable to assist. Instead, we have detention centers, lethargic immigration systems, and politicians spewing xenophobia and vitriol. When combined, this mixture creates a powder keg; one this film takes full advantage of with precision, violence, and pain.

This film uses a bombing at a shopping center in Kansas City to get the ball rolling. When it is revealed that the bombers were of Arabic descent, the US responds in the most US of ways. Violence, torture, compromised men, and immoral choices in an immoral war have all become hallmarks of the war on terror and they are used here to find some sense of truth. The truth is these men were American, trained abroad, and re-entered the country through the US/Mexican border. This reveals a much bigger issue than just homegrown terrorists. A cartel war is brewing below our southern border and in its wake is left death, drugs, and human trafficking. As the US works to broaden the definition of terrorism to include the cartels, it becomes clear to the audience the US government is going to war with them; a move we’ve made before and are probably making at this very moment.

This war won’t be fought like other wars. Instead, children will be used as pawns. Betrayal will sicken the audience. A change in politics will define the day and victims will be left at the border. As the film plays out, it becomes increasingly apparent how complicated our relationship is with Mexico; neither side playing nice or fair. To demonstrate this lack of trust, “Sicario” once again returns to a stomach-turning border crossing scene. As bullets fly and people die, you get a sense that this war could go on forever.

For some, at times, this movie can feel disjointed and disconnected. It asks a lot of the audience. It requires connecting dots and stringing pieces together. It leaves things unsaid and allows others to linger. Most audience members don’t have the patience for this sort of thing. I understand this mindset because I frequently find myself in the same position. For me, it worked here and ended up being a movie I enjoyed more than the original which is something I almost never say.

Be good to each other.

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