Emily Blunt may be AWOL this time but the follow up to Denis Villeneuve's nihilistic, pitch-black drama ups the ante in the bang-bang department.
Leading with the visceral one-two punch of Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, Soldado opens with the uncomfortably timely image of Mexican migrants crossing the Texas border and being surrounded by border patrol. It quickly doubles down on the slick brutality and gun-porn of the first to deliver an explosive ride.
The already feared and hated Mexican cartel border traffickers are now a funnel also for Middle Eastern terrorists. The nightmare of every xenophobe and hawk rolled into one conveniently missile-bait target. Brolin’s Matt Graver is summoned for a black-ops mission to set off a cartel war, and he quickly reunites with Alejandro (Del Toro.) Their plan is to stage the kidnapping of a drug lord’s teenage daughter (Isabela Moner) make it look like the work of a rival, and let the bullets fly. Meanwhile, a young boy is recruited by the bad guys for illicit border crossings. He is to be the soldado of the title. It is beautifully staged carnage. (research Jack Whiting)