[Review] Sicario, The War of the Cartels: A worthy heir to the first?

Posted under Movies On By D14N

Three years after the shock of the first episode, the Sicario saga returns without its director, with a cast cut off from its main actress. Enough to bury him?

The announcement of a new episode of Sicario had something to worry about moviegoers. Considered one of the best films of 2015, the first opus caught the attention of many spectators, showing a different vision of the war against drug trafficking on the US-Mexico border. While evoking the bitter failure of the realpolitik of the United States towards his neighbor, Denis Villeneuve had succeeded in grasping the opacity of relations between government forces and traffickers. A film which was sufficient in itself, carried by a very convincing Emily Blunt as a credulous and idealistic young agent.

His absence from the cast, like that of Denis Villeneuve, suggested an artificial extension of the original story. A cinematographic protuberance with a pecuniary aim, which would bet everything on the action to satisfy a public little watching. It was without counting several important details. The first is called Taylor Sheridan, a screenwriter who has demonstrated for several years now a real talent for writing. From Sicario (first of the name) to Wind River , via Comancheria , the American has brilliantly analyzed the heated question of the borders of his country.

The second is called Stephano Sollima. Après ACAB , brutal portrait informed de nos sociétés modernes, the Italian Jew penché with brio on pègre Italian with the série Romanzo Criminale and the very effective Suburra . The combination of these two visions, societal and territorial, allows us to quickly see that most of the original work has been respected.

Convinced that radical Islamists are taking advantage of the trafficking in human beings set up by the Mexican cartels to infiltrate the country, the US government places them on the list of terrorist organizations. All means are then left to federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to counter them. The latter will again call on Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) to organize a kidnapping in order to create a fratricidal war between the gangs.

It takes less than half an hour to realize that Sollima has avoided the main trap in this sequel. Although it has a chiseled writing and an effective narration, the success of the first opus lies almost entirely in its staging. Far from the simple action film that its synopsis could suggest, Villeneuve had succeeded in infusing a new seriousness in the genre.

By reducing the pure action phases as much as possible, while preparing us for imminent death, the Quebecois left the spectator in apnea. A stifling result, contrasted by the masterful photography of Roger Deakins, which has not been added to this episode.

Never mind. Sollima refocuses on her murderous duo and uses the same technique. If the aesthetic aspect does not reach the same heights, it makes it possible to recreate the same paranoia, the same stiffness. Each journey, interrogation, spinning is crossed by an enjoyable tension, which alone constitutes the interest of this suite.

The director nevertheless allows himself to go to more extensive shootings. But his tight shots, which focus on the shooter and not his victim, still hit the mark. The viewer thus has the impression of looking at a less atmospheric, but more aggressive version of the initial work. We nevertheless regret the departure of the Icelandic composer Johan Johansson, replaced by his compatriot Hildur Guðnadóttir, whose sound work is less impressive… Except when it takes up the theme of the previous opus.

In bringing up Islamic terrorism, Sheridan seemed to be making a big deviation somewhat in keeping with the realism of the writing. Yet his devious scenario works quite well, replacing one threat with another while highlighting the particularly volatile aspect of political decisions.

Aware that they are dealing here with a transitional episode, Sheridan and Sollima weave secondary narratives through the characters of Isabella and Miguel, the daughter of a cartel leader and a young American of Mexican origin in quest. easy money. The story of the latter has despite everything struggled to relate to the main script, and clearly serves to open a breach for a third opus.

That of the young girl highlights the main flaw of the film, linked to the treatment of the character of Alejandro. Once perceived as an implacable and cruel entity, the character here changes status. If Benicio del Toro once again delivers a good performance (well supported by the nonchalance of Brolin), Sollima tries to humanize him by building him a more or less expected past.

As the narrative progresses, his drive to make him the main icon of the franchise alters the part of mystery that made him fascinating. This desire for heroisation also leads to an incredible scene, which the indestructible vigilantes of Marvel and others would not deny. Fortunately, she only intervenes at the end of the film, which has already convinced us of her initial good intentions.