SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO — Review by Susan Granger

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There’s no Emily Blunt as the FBI agent who served as the conscience of the 2015 original, so this sequel come across as amoral, ultra-violent and, unfortunately, all too timely, given the “zero-tolerance’ escalation of U.S. immigration crisis. Indeed, it begins as illegal Mexican immigrants are attempting to cross into the United States. When the Border Patrol stops one of the refugees at gunpoint, he blows himself up, detonating an explosive vest. Continue reading…

Cut to ISIS terrorists blowing up a store in Kansas City, Missouri, while a mother pleads for the life of her child.

Josh Brolin reprises his role as compromised CIA operative Matt Graver, taking cues from his handler Cynthia Foards (Catherine Keener) and the Secretary of Defense (Matthew Modine), who notes, “The President is adding drug cartels to the list of terrorist organizations.”

Back too is Benicio Del Toro as enigmatic Alejandro Gillick, Matt’s secret-opps ally who is after the ‘bad hombres’ who smuggle Islamic terrorists across the border.

They come up with a misguided plan to ‘kidnap’ and ‘rescue’ Isabella Reyes (Isabela Moner), a cartel kingpin’s bratty daughter to incite a war between two Mexican drug syndicates. But the plan backfires when her father seems willing to sacrifice the troublesome teenager as collateral damage.

That leaves vengeful Alejandro in the desert, torn between the CIA’s order to eliminate the girl and his deepest paternal instincts.

Plus, there’s a subplot involving Miguel Hernandez (Elijah Rodriguez), a Mexican-American youth with relatives on both sides of the border, who joins a gang of human traffickers.

Sketchily scripted by Taylor Sheridan (“Wind River,” “Hell or High Water”) and helmed by Italian “Gomorrah” TV director Stefano Sollima, it tries to mask the misguided, muddled, double-crossing story-telling with amped up action.

FYI: While the word “soldado” means soldier, it also incorporates the word “dad.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a somber, savage 6, as sinister and intense as the nightly news from McAllen, Texas.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.