Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Rated 2.0

The drug war from 2015’s Sicario continues, only the stakes are raised now: the Mexican drug cartels are smuggling terrorists over the border as well as drugs, bringing black-ops specialist Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and maverick operative Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) again into play. Writer Taylor Sheridan is back, but the director this time is Stefano Sollima (in for Denis Villeneuve); the result is viciously efficient and relentlessly unpleasant. Characters are all varying shades of unsavory; even a 12-year-old kidnap victim is set up first as a nasty little brat. The first movie had Emily Blunt’s idealistic FBI agent for us to identify with; she’s gone now, and there’s no one to replace her. The movie’s view of Mexico as a hell-hole of cartel assassins and corrupt cops adds to the overall ugliness.