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'Sicario' Followup 'Day of the Soldado' Loses Steam 

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Released three years ago, the artsy crime drama Sicario didn't exactly cry out for a sequel (and it only generated moderate revenue at the box office). Helmed by the French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, who's since gone on to direct Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, and written by Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Wind River), the film follows an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) who aims to take down a Mexican drug cartel. She enlists the help of CIA agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and his steely right-hand man Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro).

The suspenseful film won critical acclaim but, again, didn't seem like something that would demand a followup film. And yet, here we are with Sicario: Day of the Soldado, a Sicario sequel.

Brolin and Del Toro reprise their roles in the film and Sheridan returns to write the screenplay. Italian writer-director Stefano Sollima (Suburra) directs the movie, a thriller that loses its momentum about half-way through. It seems destined to be lost in the summer blockbuster shuffle; the film opens Friday areawide.

Like its predecessor, Sicario: Day of the Soldado centers on a conflict that takes place on the U.S.-Mexico border. This time around, a terrorist incident forces Matt and Alejandro back into action as CIA agent Cynthia Foards (Catherine Keener) calls upon them to create an elaborate scheme to disrupt the drug cartels, whom they think are responsible for the attack.

In broad daylight, Matt and Alejandro kidnap Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner), the daughter of a drug lord, in the attempt to incite war between the rival cartels. When the Mexican government gets wind of the U.S. government's meddling, all hell breaks loose, and Cynthia tells Matt that the plan must be abandoned, and he's got to kill the kid.

Problem is, Matt and Alejandro have secretly gone into Mexico. They can't ask for military intervention because no one is supposed to know they're there. Predictably enough, a bloody shootout with the Mexican cops ensues, and Matt races to the border to try to get safely back into the U.S. Alejandro goes rogue as he attempts to keep Isabela safe and save his own life in the process while wandering through rather remote parts of the Mexican desert and trying to find a coyote willing to take him and Isabela across the border.

At this point, the film loses the thrust of its narrative and while its relevancy won't be lost on American audiences, the movie lacks the intensity of the previous film. And yet, its forced ending even manages to leave things open for yet another sequel.

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