In this grim, unpleasant sequel to the 2015 film that grappled with the morality of the drug war, there is no more grappling. What was once an ethical quagmire is now a harmless mud bath, wallowed in by swaggering, non-introspective federal agents who seem to enjoy killing. No one has any regard for life or law; worse, the film has nothing to say about that disregard. The objective this time is to defeat Mexican drug cartels by pitting them against each other, so shadowy black-ops agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) kidnaps a drug lord’s teenage daughter (Isabela Moner) and blames a rival cartel; when that gets screwed up, Graver and his semi-psychotic associate Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) have to do more questionable things to fix it. Emily Blunt served as the conscience of the first film, but she isn’t here, and no one takes her place. The fact that nobody questions anything or learns from their mistakes might be a potent metaphor for American drug and foreign policy, but any self-reflection or nuance in Taylor Sheridan’s joyless screenplay has been flattened by Stefano Sollima’s blunt direction.
Director: Stefano Sollima
Producer: Basil Iwanyk, Edward McDonnell, Molly Smith, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Ellen Schwartz, Richard Middleton and Erica Lee
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Matthew Modine, Shea Whigham, Elijah Rodriguez, Howard Ferguson Jr., David Castañeda, Jacqueline Torres, Raoul Trujillo, Bruno Bichir, Jake Picking, Tenzin Marco-Taylor, Alfredo Quiroz and Nick Shakoour