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“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a Sullen Sequel, Hope So Separately

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The world of Sicario is a dark and depressing one, placing a grimace of realism on an unwinnable war on drugs. There’s a thoughtfulness and brooding atmosphere to its messy affairs of corruption and violence that swirl about the borders of America and Mexico. That presence of intoxicating hopelessness remains firm, but without the precision direction of Denis Villeneuve and the lawful pillar of Emily Blunt, there are a few missing components to make the gloomy experience more fulfilling.

Rather than featuring a faint trace of justice to be tarnished by the cold hand of force, Day of the Soldado is a battle of corruption versus corruption without anyone all that ethical to root for in this fight. Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is still a CIA agent that isn’t afraid to pull dirty tactics of using airstrikes for interrogation. Even more vicious is the undercover operative Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), devoid of fear to gun down gangsters in the streets of Mexico City. They’re teamed up once again to wage war on the Mexican cartels, this time with a more intricate plan bred from a spring in terrorist threats. With the goal of making the gangs kill each other, Graver and Gillick stage an operation to kidnap the daughter of a cartel boss and frame a competing cartel for this crime. Graver wants to make the act look sloppy like the cartel’s work. That won’t be a problem considering how sloppy the operation goes when backstabbing and lousy luck turn the mission into a disaster.

Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin star in SICARIO 2: SOLDADO.

Much of the unsettling and uncompromising nature of the drug trade has been simplified for the second serving of Sicario, edging dangerously close to being a standard and forgettable action picture. The violence has been ramped up, and the brooding soundtrack increased in dread to hammer home more excitement amid the film’s core message of how ugly the drug war is on both sides. Despite a tangling narrative of how politics and deception strangled and contorted the government involvement, the story nearly relegates itself to Gillick and girl braving the Mexican desserts, with Gillick possibly coming to terms with his pathos that led him down a dark path. It’s a relief to relay that the film thankfully never delves too deep into this Logan-style territory, sliding comfortably back into Gillick’s chaotic loyalties.

Where the film shines brightest in its own dark ways is with the cast that brings more of their intimidating presence back to the screen. Josh Brolin’s gruff nature is in full effect as he approaches his dirty mission in a manner so stoic he hardly cracks a smile through his passive insults towards his superiors. Benicio del Toro is as much of a reserved killer after his revenge spree from the previous film, still doing most of his talking with a gun and quietly taking an interest in children he comes across that echo his lost fatherhood. Katherine Keener also does a great job as the boss that chews out Brolin; nobody can command a room and show her teeth quite like Keener.

Benicio Del Toro stars in SICARIO 2: SOLDADO.

What I fear may be lost in this new film by director Stefano Sollima is the contemplative nature of how this battle carries an infinite sorrow with no concrete solution. This is why Emily Blunt’s character was so crucial in Sicario, reflecting the audience’s desire for a hero in this situation which cannot exist without going outside the law. Left with only chaotic forces matching each other in their bloody tactics, someone could easily miss the message and see this film as more of a Death Wish-style romp and a razor-thin case for increased border security.

With lowered expectations, Day of the Soldado is a pleasing cartel action-thriller but not as focused and chilling as Sicario. The previous film left me shaking with how life could proceed after such a mess that was spun from corruption and violence. Its sequel merely repeats with a more dour conclusion about how the war will continue, breeding a depression that doesn’t make one long for Sicario 3.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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