FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2018 -- In case you forgot from Denis Villeneuve's original shoot-em-up, a "Sicario" is a Mexican hitman. You may also recall, that the hitman in question was the pissed-off former lawyer Alejandro (Benecio de Toro) who enacted his revenge hits with icy coldness.


Even though the film was a box office success - earning $46 million on a $30 million investment - Lionsgate bailed; Sony jumped in and has picked up the "franchise". Villeneuve also bailed out while directing the very well received "Arrival" (2016) and "Blade Runner 2049" (2017). Writer Taylor Sheridan returns after collecting accolades for "Hell or High Water" (2017) and last years "Wind River"; he also penned TV's"Yellowstone".


Taking the helm is blood and guts director Stefano Sollima. He got back two of the three principle actors Benecio and the very busy Josh Brolin. Catherine Keener steps in as the obligatory gal, though this time she knows what's going on and is wearing a bosses suit.

The story opens with four terrorist blowing themselves up in a Kansas City store and the feds realizing that the terrorist got in with the help of Mexican smugglers. The feds also know that the drug cartels control the border smuggling business, so they've authorized Matt Graver (Brolin) to get ugly once again; they green light him to get a war started between the cartels.


Graver, in turn, brings in his old pal Alejandro to run amok against the people he can't stand. The plan is to have a couple of hits, then kidnap one of the drug bosses daughter, Isabel (played by Isabela Moner) and the cartels obliterate each other. But things don't go the way they planned.


Naturally there is plenty of gratuitous violence mostly compliments of Alejandro and Graves. Then there is the slight misunderstanding and error... then there is the betrayal that you knew was coming from the feds. There is also the sudden importance of an unimportant character and the sudden empathy the hitman has for his captive. Those are predictable plot developments and somewhat well delivered.


But there are some scene jumps that make absolutely no sense and are left unexplained. There is also the audience friendly ending that makes no apologies for leaving the door open for a Sicario three. The acting is acceptable only because the abundance of violence cloaks its mediocrity. But the story is so predictable from minute ten.


In the end, you get the feeling that #45 will use this movie as a motivational tool to close the Mexican border completely.


"Sicario: Day of the Soldado" is very predictable but still very entertaining for those who get a kick out of shoot-em-up crime films. Once again Benecio del Toro is bad ass as ever and Josh Brolin is hard as ever.   -- GRADE C+ --   GEOFF BURTON