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Posts Tagged ‘Benicia del Toro’

Isabela Moner, Benecio Del Toro

“SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO” My rating: B- 

102 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Sicario” was one of 2015’s best films, a (mostly) South of the Border crime drama which posited that the war on drugs is not only unwinnable but destined to make the U.S. as complicit in evil as the cartels.

Also, it starred Emily Blunt (always a welcome thing) as an F.B.I. agent who discovers the hard way that in this conflict there are no good guys.

The Blunt-less “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a step down from the original (this was pretty much inevitable); nevertheless it works reasonably well as a high-tension crime thriller.

Scripted once again by Taylor Sheridan (“Wind River,” “Hell or High Water”) and directed this time around by Stefano Solima (the Italian TV crime drama “Gomorrah”), this entry reunites Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro as, respectively, CIA operative Matt Graver and his right-hand man, former cartel hitman Alejandro.

This time we don’t have to discover through a principled heroine that our government is willing to do all sorts of unpalatable things to secure our safety. Truth is, just about every character in the film is outright evil or seriously compromised.

Early on, Islamic terrorists blow up a big box store in Kansas City; the feds determine that the suicide bombers entered the U.S. as illegal immigrants crossing the Rio Grande, guided by underlings of the Reyes drug cartel.

Graver and Alejandro are assigned to start a war among the various cartels through a series of assassinations. They also set in motion a plan to kidnap Isabel Reyes (Isabela Moner), the teen daughter of the Reyes cartel’s leader.

Of course this skullduggery is off the books; the government bigwigs who order the mission (Catherine Keener, Matthew Modine) are all about deniability and any member of the team is expendable if it means keeping a lid on things.

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Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill

“STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI” My rating: C

152 minutes |MPAA rating: PG-13

Over the last 40 years “Star Wars” films have thrilled and delighted (the original “A New Hope”) and occasionally pissed off and dismayed (the George Lucas-directed prequels).

But until now I’ve never been bored.

We’re talking I-don’t-know-if-I-can-keep-my-eyes-open bored.

It’s not that “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is terrible. It’s just that writer/director Rian Johnson is so handcuffed by the franchise’s mythology that there’s no hope of actually delivering anything new and unusual.

A “Star Wars” movie is now like a giant hamster wheel. We keep loping along but the scenery never changes. The same narratives, motifs and tropes play out over and over again. The filmmakers may tinker with small details, but there’s no way they can give this series the swift kick in the narrative ass it needs.

Actually, Johnson (“Loopers,” “Brick,”  “The Brothers Bloom”) delivers a flash of hope early in “Last Jedi” when the pompous General Hux (Domhnail Gleeson) delivers one of those vituperative “rebel swine” declamatory speeches, only to be phone pranked by rebel pilot Poe Dameron who cuts in on the imperial cruiser’s radio frequency.

It’s a refreshingly gonzo sequence, one that not only re-establishes Dameron as the new Han Solo but  acknowledges the cardboard villainy that has always been the hallmark of “Star Wars” baddies.

Alas, that moment passes, never to be repeated. Yeah, there are a couple of mildly amusing flashes still on tap.

“If they move, stun ’em” one of our heroes says of captives, a clear nod to “The Wild Bunch’s” “If they move, kill ’em.” And we get a throwaway glimpse of an imperial dreadnaught’s laundry room where all those fascist uniforms are being starched.

But for the most part “Last Jedi” takes itself very, very seriously. It needs a lot more finger-in-the-eye subversiveness.

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