Now Available: September 11, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Superfly, Director X’s sleek remake of 1972’s Super Fly, tells us the story of Priest Youngblood (Trevor Jackson), an Atlanta cocaine dealer and career criminal. Wanting to get out of the game, he creates the perfect plan for one last big score to set him up for life so he can live in peace. As anyone who has ever seen a movie before could probably assume, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Complications put Priest at odds with his partner, fellow dealers, his supplier and the law. Can all of the loose ends be tied up in time for him to make his escape unscathed, or will he find himself sucked right back into the only world he’s ever known?

There is a lot to like about Director X’s remake of the classic blaxploitation film. He expertly updates the story for modern audiences with updated wardrobes, cars and music. In a nice touch, a few of the songs on the soundtrack are the same as in the original, but are remixed by rapper/singer/producer Future. The movie is sleek, stylish and while I found thought it started off a little slow, it expertly ratchets up the tension when the time is right. I had never watched a blaxploitation movie prior to seeing this film, but watching the original and other classics like Shaft afterward, I found it’s pacing to be quite consistent, though with a longer runtime, with the best that the genre has to offer. It also has a subversive sense of humor, with scenes of vengeful wish fulfillment involving dirty cops getting beat to a pulp and, in my favorite set piece, a car chase that ends with the creative demise of a confederate statue. Trevor Jackson shines as Priest, the calm, cool and collected career dealer who harbors secret dreams of another life. The rest of the cast is good, with a few brief appearances by Michael K. Williams being the highlight. Unfortunately, a long scene of sexuality that was completely superfluous made the film feel a lot cheaper than it would have otherwise. It’s easier to forgive these depictions of male wish fulfillment in the films from the 70’s that influenced this one because they’re quite literally of a different time. I don’t believe that this type of sex for the sake of showing skin sits as well with the modern audience. That scene, combined with a story that holds your attention but ultimately feels hollow, keeps the film from being something I’d recommend to others, unless I knew they were fans of the genre.

In the end, Director X’s SuperFly is a solid reimagining of the classic film for modern audiences. There is a good chance, though, that you’ll forget it pretty quickly after the credits roll.

Buy It, Rent It, Wait for Netflix or Skip It?

Wait for Netflix.

Also available this week:

Ocean’s 8- Aaron was a pretty big fan of this fiercely female heist film. See his thoughts here.

Hearts Beat Loud- There’s a good chance you’ll see this film on at least a couple of Feelin’ Film contributors’ top ten lists at the end of the year. Listen to Patrick talk about his love for the movie in the “What We’ve Been Up To” portion of episode 115 of the podcast here and be sure to subscribe to the Podcast because a full episode on this gem is coming in early October!

Other New Releases: Distorted, Watcher in the Woods


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: August 28, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Xavier Beauvois’ The Guardians is a war film that never shows us the battlefield. Rather than giving us glimpses of the horrors on the front, it tells the story of the women who were left behind. Beginning in 1915, the film’s setting is the farm of Hortense Sandrail (Nathalie Baye), the hard working mother of three who is left to control the family farm when her two sons and son-in-law are called away to fight for France in World War 1. Together with her daughter Solange (Laura Smet), their new hired hand Francine (Iris Bry) and the help of the community, the family works to survive the harsh realities of farm life in the early twentieth century.  

The Guardians is a tale of two halves. The IMDb summary of the film “Women are left behind to work a family farm during the Great War,” only describes the first hour of the movie, and that part is absolutely sublime. Beauvois’ portrait of the French countryside is gorgeous. As someone who was born and raised in the Great Plains, I’m always excited when the beauty of a field ripe for harvest catches the eye of an artist like it has here. His naturalistic style set against this backdrop makes the first half of the film, based on the Ernest Pérochon novel of the same name, feel more like actual footage than scripted drama. Our three main players, Baye, Smet and Bry are fantastic, perfectly balancing a look of constant exhaustion with an air of confident resolve. It’s really breathtaking. Unfortunately, once the men return, the film turns into a disappointing melodrama featuring classical soap opera tropes like unfounded gossip, illicit affairs and pregnancies to bog down the proceedings. It’s a pretty disappointing end to a film that started out as engaging and as beautiful as anything I’ve seen yet in 2018.

The Guardians is part love letter to the French countryside and part tepid melodrama. Fortunately the former is captivating enough to not be soiled by the latter. Ultimately it’s worth watching as an uplifting picture of families working together to survive on the home front during wartime.

Buy It, Rent It, Wait for Netflix or Skip It?

Wait for Netflix.

Also available this week:

American Animals- Aaron had the opportunity to sit down and chat with director Bart Layton in this minisode you don’t want to miss.

RBG- Read Aaron’s review of the distinguished Supreme Court judge here.

Tag- This summer’s most surprising comedy is now available to watch at home. See what Aaron thought right here.

Upgrade- Darkly fun and very unexpected, here are my thoughts on this sleeper hit.

Book Club- There is nothing remotely original about this little story, but the cast is so amazing that I didn’t really even care.

Other New Releases: Mary Shelley, A Kid Like Jake, Woman Walks Ahead


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: August 21, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

When a corporate mega-park moves in across town, the run-down, play-at-your-own-risk Action Point amusement park is in dire financial trouble. The park’s oddball owner D.C. (Johnny Knoxville), his daughter and his ragtag staff (including Jackass’ Chris Pontius) must find a way to keep the doors open. Complicating matters are lawyers and lawmakers who are fed up with the lack of safety protocols at the once proud establishment.

Don’t let that description fool you. Tim Kirkby’s Action Point is nothing but MTV’s Jackass repackaged with a flimsy plot to attempt to sell the antics of Knoxville and his friends once again. At Feelin’ Film, we like to try to look positively at movies, but I really have nothing good to say about this one at all. It’s dull, amateurish and more than just a little tired. Johnny Knoxville is an enigma to me. He has charisma to spare and has proven himself to be an adept comedic actor in the past. But instead of using that talent, he’s been content to churn out lowest common denominator dreck for almost 20 years at this point. If there’s one bright spot, it’s that it performed more poorly at the box office than any Knoxville starring films to date, so maybe as a culture we’re learning to stay away.

Action Point is a tired and laugh-less comedy from the guy who brought you Jackass. It’s one of the worst movies of the year.

Buy It, Rent It, Wait for Netflix or Skip It?

Skip It.

Also available this week:

Deadpool 2- I was a pretty big fan of this one when it was released back in May and after watching it again this week, I still am. Read my review here.

First Reformed- One of the favorites of the year so far for a few of our contributors, listen to Don and Aaron share their thoughts about it here.

Show Dogs- Despite starring one of my personal favorite comedic actors in Will Arnett and having the vocal talents of people like Stanley Tucci, this so called family comedy failed make me laugh and was offensive enough that I won’t show it to my family.

Other New Releases: God’s Not Dead 3, Black Water


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: August 14, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

To the majority of his loved ones, Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) is an aspiring photographer who makes a living running a small parking valet service with his buddy Derek (Carlito Olivero). What they don’t know is that Sean supplements his suspiciously abundant income by using the garage door openers of the cars that he’s supposed to be parking to break into the homes of his customers while they eat. It’s a solid scam that works because Sean and Derek only take a little from each person, leaving the bigger ticket items in favor of smaller pieces that the victims won’t miss. It works, that is, until Sean discovers a young woman chained up in the office of one of the homes he’s robbing. Does risk getting caught while he takes the time to set her free or leave her there, saving his own bacon but leaving him to live with the inner turmoil that decision would generate?

Dean Devlin’s Bad Samaritan is in the running for the 2018 most surprising movie of the year. It’s tight, it’s tense, and I had never even heard of it until I checked the DVD release schedule. While a lot of the edge of your seat action borders on cheap set-ups guaranteed to make the audience uncomfortable (even the worst thrillers can generate tension by having characters be snooping around somewhere they shouldn’t, unaware of how much time they have to escape), the film dares to go add depth by asking moral questions about what what we as humans owe to each other. Would you be willing to do the right thing when the decision to do so could cost you everything? One gets the feeling that the filmmakers are working through this question themselves in the making of this movie. The performances are solid. Robert Sheehan shines as a man dealing with intense inner conflict. David Tennant is creepy as hell as the mysterious stranger hiding a terrible secret. To say much more would be to ruin the surprises along the way, and that’s most of the fun. Suffice it to say that Sean’s decisions place him in some intriguing scenarios that will leave you guessing until the very end.

Bad Samaritan is a solid thriller that makes up for it’s times of generic, manufactured tension with good performances and its thought provoking moral quandaries. It’s the leader in the clubhouse for my most surprising movie of 2018.

Buy It, Rent It, Wait for Netflix or Skip It?

Rent It.

Also available this week:

Infinity War- We’re a movie podcast, so obviously we did an episode about the biggest movie of 2018 and maybe the millennium. Check that one out here. And don’t forget to check out Aaron’s review.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties- There are some people out there who get John Cameron Mitchell’s movies. If you’re one of them, give this one a shot. Apparently I’m not, because much like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I just thought this was freaking weird.

Other New Releases: Furlough, Higher Power, Shock and Awe and The Yellow Birds


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: August 7, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) is a loving wife and mother who has spent her life sacrificing her own goals and dreams in deference to her husband and daughter. Her whole existence descends to chaos when, on the day they dropped their daughter off at college for the first day of her senior year, her husband (Matt Walsh) informs her that he’s in love with another woman and he’s filed for divorce. Having left college only a few credits shy of graduating to support her husband’s education several years before, Deanna decided to pick up the pieces of her life by enrolling in her daughter’s university to finish her degree.

Your enjoyment of Ben Falcone’s Life of the Party, a story written by real life husband and wife Falcone and McCarthy, will depend solely on how you feel about Melissa McCarthy. If the breakout star of Bridesmaids has worn out her welcome to you, there’s really no reason for you to watch this film. It’s an easy, breezy comedy that relies on McCarthy’s charm and physical comedy chops to work. From reading the synopsis, one can immediately tell where the film will end and the conflicts that will happen along the way. Conflict between mother and daughter because daughter thinks other is cramping her style? Check. Conflict between scorned wife and her ex-husband and his new significant other? Check. Conflict caused by being away from higher education for over 20 years? Check. It’s all there. But if you’re like me and really enjoy McCarthy’s vibe, its predictability doesn’t detract from the fun of seeing her do her thing. McCarthy’s sincerity and expert comedic timing elevates the rote, uninspired material into something that you’ll enjoy for 100 minutes, even if you immediately forget it exists when you turn it off.

Life of the Party is a bland, forgettable comedy that you’ve seen before that is elevated by Melissa McCarthy’s charm. If McCarthy’s presence makes you laugh, you’ll have a good time. If it makes you cringe, stay away.

Buy It, Rent It, Wait for Netflix or Skip It?

Wait for Netflix.

Also available this week:

Breaking In- See what Jeremy thought of this twist on the home invasion movie here.

The Rider- Aaron really enjoyed this film when he was given a chance to see it back in May. Check out his review here.

Other New Releases: On Chesil Beach, Marrowbone, Aardvark, Lowlife and Revenge


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: July 31, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

When Marlo (Charlize Theron) is given the gift of a night nanny by her brother Craig (Mark Duplass), the mother of three, including a newborn and a special needs child, is reluctant to accept the help. Through Craig’s prodding, she relents and hires Tully (Mackenzie Davis) to take care of her infant daughter through the night so that she can receive some much needed rest. Tully’s influence soon bleeds out into the whole family as her youthful spirit and zest for life energizes Marlo and rubs off on her husband and kids.

Boasting stand-out performances by Theron and Mackenzie, Jason Reitman’s Tully is a return to form for the director, who’s feature filmography had stalled out a bit after 2013’s lukewarm melodrama Labor Day and 2014’s god-awful Men, Women and Children. Here he’s teamed up with writer Diablo Cody, with whom he’s made two of his best films in Juno and Young Adult, which also starred Theron. I have five kids, so I’ve been through this time of life several times and I can say that Reitman and Cody absolutely nail the tone here in all facets of the story. There comes a point when you bring a newborn home from the hospital where life is just rough and it’s hard to see past the messy house, the cranky kids who feel neglected and the baby who needs constant care to a day where life can be normal again. Tully lets its audience sit in that moment like new parents have to and it’s really quite impressive. We see from the opening shots, a tender scene where she lovingly runs a soft brush over the skin of her son to help calm him before bed, that Marlo is a good and caring mother, but she’s utterly exhausted and the deep post-partum depression she’s experiencing isn’t helping matters either. Her husband Drew (Ron Washington) means well, but he doesn’t know how to give his wife the relief that she needs. It’s a scenario that’s highly relatable to a vast majority of married couples and that Reitman is able to make it feel real rather than manufactured is a testament to his talent as a filmmaker. In Marlo, Theron gives one of the best performances of her career. Showing an unrivaled commitment to the role, she gained 50 lbs for the part, she completely disappears into the struggling mother, treading water and gasping for air while holding very little hope for a lifeline. Mackenzie Davis is wide-eyed and full of life as Tully. Her wisdom would sound so naive, but she delivers it with such sincerity and love. It’s really quite a good film and it’s one of my favorites of the year.

With a solid script by Diablo Cody and stand-out performances by Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis, Jason Reitman’s Tully is a must see. It deserves to be mentioned with his best and hopefully signals a return to form for the director.

Buy It, Rent It, Wait for Netflix or Skip It?

Rent It!

Also available this week:

Overboard- If you like the original Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn comedy, I recommend that you watch that one again. This remake that sees the roles reversed when Anna Faris tricks amnesiac Eugenio Derbez into believing he’s her husband is a totally laugh-less 105 minutes that would’ve been better spent doing literally anything else.

Other New Releases:The Miracle Season, Final Portrait, Dark Crimes, Kings


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: July 17, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

While on a spring break trip to Mexico, Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her friends join a mysterious stranger for a game of truth or dare. As is prone to happen when you play a game of truth or dare with a stranger in a creepy abandoned mansion with a stranger, things get a little weird. When they get back, Olivia and her friends begin to realize that the game isn’t over. One by one, the participants must choose to tell uncomfortable truths or to participate in increasingly deadly dares. The only rule in Jeff Wadlow’s Truth or Dare? Participate or die.

There has been a lot of good and unexpected horror that has come out over the past few years. Truth or Dare exists to remind us that the mediocre teen horror genre is still going strong. There’s not an original thought in the film, borrowing liberally from several superior films (the most obvious well from which they draw is 2000’s Final Destination). There’s no underlying sense of dread at all, just a handful of poorly executed jump scares. The filmmakers make an odd choice to have people under control of the game take on the look of what the film calls a “demonic Snap Chat filter” that has the effect of making otherwise tense situations just look pretty silly.

Thankfully, the cast doesn’t realize that they’re in an uninspired, run of the mill movie. Lucy Hale is really good as Olivia. Her relationship with Markie (Violett Beane) is the anchor of the film. Both actresses give their friendship a strong sense of history. Hayden Szeto is great as Brad, a young closeted gay man who on the surface has the most to lose by being forced to tell the truth. The ending of the film, which I won’t spoil here, is another strong point. It goes somewhere that’s quite unexpected and follows through on some of the ideas that the film tries (often clumsily) to examine.

Truth or Dare is a rote teen horror film with little to nothing new to offer the genre. Despite solid performances and a surprisingly satisfying ending, I’d suggest watching one of the many films it’s copying.

Also available this week:

Isle of Dogs- Our own Aaron White gave Wes Anderson’s second foray into stop-motion animation 4.5 stars here. If you’re an Anderson fan, and why wouldn’t you be, it’s a must-see.

Rampage- Aaron enjoyed this early summer popcorn flick starring The Rock and a CGI gorilla.  Read his review here.

You Were Never Really Here- This dark but artful examination of suffering isn’t easy to watch, but worth it says Aaron, here.

Disobedience- Don says: Sebastián Lelio’s followup to the Oscar winning foreign film Fantastic Women is worth a watch for it’s challenging religious themes and its underlying message about marriage.

I Feel Pretty- Jeremy says:This mostly laugh-less comedy that tries half-heartedly to have a positive message about self-image might appeal to those who haven’t yet tired of Amy Schumer.

Super Troopers 2- Jeremy says: If you’re a fan of the original, you’d probably better check this one out right meow. If you’re not, the second installment isn’t likely to win you over.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: July 10, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Late on July 18, 1969, a vehicle driven by Senator Ted Kennedy swerved off of a bridge, landing on its roof in Poucha Pond on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. While Senator Kennedy was able to get out of the vehicle and safely make it to shore, his passenger, the 28 year old Mary Jo Kopechne, died in the vehicle. Kennedy fled the scene of the accident and didn’t report it for over 9 hours. Due to conflicting accounts over the years by Kennedy and his associates who were were with him both in the hours before and after the accident, as well as coroner reports that indicated Kopechne died of suffocation, not drowning, have led to much speculation over the past 49 years about what actually happened that night. Did the accident happen as described by its only survivor? If so, why did he wait so long to report it? Were Kennedy’s actions properly dealt with or was this a case where the influence wielded by one of the United States’ most powerful families allowed justice to be undermined?

John Curran’s Chappaquiddick efforts to retell this murky story in a way that focuses on established facts to show the social and political ramifications of the incident while responsibly filling in some of the holes in the official version of the story. Jason Clarke leads an impressive cast as Kennedy, proving to be more than up to the task of transforming himself into the “Lion of the Senate.” Most everyone has a generic Kennedy impression somewhere in their repertoire, but Clarke surpasses mere imitation by playing the character as a man weighed down by his perceived responsibility to be who his father expects him to be as the only surviving Kennedy son following the assassination of his brother Robert just a month prior to the incident. His brother John’s shadow also looms large in the film, as much of the background noise is of televisions and radios tuned in to hear about Apollo 11’s journey to the moon, an endeavor fiercely supported by the late president that occurred on the same weekend as the accident. Ed Helms gives a rare but capable dramatic performance as Joseph Gargan, the cousin to Kennedy who became the estranged from the family as a result of the incident. Gargan is the conscience of the film and most of the blanks filled in on the story are consistent with the real life Gargan’s recollections of the incident in the 1988 book Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up by Leo Demore. Jim Gaffigan gives a surprisingly balanced performance as Kennedy family friend and Massachusetts District Attorney Paul F. Markham, a man burdened by his loyalty to the Kennedy’s as he goes about the icky business of effectively spinning the death of a young woman in a way that would salvage a promising political career. Curran’s direction and the screenplay are tight, giving the film an even pace and the feel of a thriller. I’m always impressed when a director is able to make a well-known event feel like anything could happen, and Curran is able to accomplish that here. It’s a well balanced film that avoids promoting salacious conspiracy theories but doesn’t paint a flattering picture of the senator either. 

Overall Chappaquiddick is an impressive film buoyed by a dynamite lead performance by Clarke. It’s definitely worth the price of a Redbox. It’s probably even still worth it if you forget to return it for a day or two.

Also available this week:

A Quiet Place: Patrick and Aaron discussed this film with special guest Patrick Willems on Episode 104 of the podcast and Aaron wrote a review here.

The Leisure Seeker

Lean on Pete

211

Future World

Sweet Country


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: July 3, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

It’s 1982 and Lebanon is embroiled in civil war. Former US Diplomat Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is compelled to return to the city where his wife was murdered ten years earlier to negotiate the return of a kidnapped former colleague. Racing against the timeline of the abductors, Skiles must attempt to meet their demands while navigating around multiple obstacles in the form of the State Department and the CIA.

Brad Anderson’s Beirut is a tense thriller that’s elevated by what may be my favorite film role in Jon Hamm’s career. For the most part, I’ve found Hamm’s dramatic film roles to be pretty bland, but as any Mad Men fan could tell you, playing a highly functional alcoholic with the keen ability to tell people what it is they want to hear is right in his wheelhouse, in fact it might be his wheelhouse. Rosamund Pike is, of course, great, and a little under utilized, as CIA officer and Skiles’ handler Sandy Crowder. When the story threatens to get bogged down with one too many complications, Hamm and Pike never let it become anything less than interesting. The cinematography is occasionally too dark, but for the most part it’s perfect in its dirty, gritty aesthetic. The story is intriguing, although occasionally it threatens to spin too tangled a web. Setting the story against the backdrop of an actual historical war is a nice touch that gives even the calmer moments a sense of urgency. 

Overall, while it doesn’t do anything to really separate itself in the genre, strong performances make the film worth checking out. Beirut is a pretty solid choice for a quiet Sunday night on the sofa.

Also available this week:

Blockers: You can read my review of this fun twist on the teen sex comedy here.

7 Days in Entebbe

Borg vs. McEnroe

Finding Your Feet

Journey’s End

Ismael’s Ghosts

Another Wolf Cop

The Female Mind

The Cured


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

MOVIE REVIEW: Sicario: Day of the Soldado

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO (2018)

When the man behind a suicide bombing at a Kansas City supermarket is revealed to have entered the country through the border between Texas and Mexico, the President of the United States is in a position to officially deem human trafficking a terrorist activity, giving them more latitude to deal with the controversial issue. With the intention of waging a battle on this new front in the war on terror, Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver and his team are given the task of firing the first shot.

“It might get dirty.”

“Dirty is why you’re here.”

Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the follow up to Denis Villeneuve’s outstanding Sicario that no one really knew we needed but were all, nevertheless, curious to see. Gone is Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer, the young FBI agent who served as the conscience and the audience stand in in the first film. Returning are Graver and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), as well as their unorthodox, but unarguably effective, ways of dealing with troubles at the border. Their plan is simple. They are going to kidnap the 16 year old daughter of the cartel kingpin who killed Alejandro’s family and make it look like it was another cartel. The intention is to start a turf war between cartels so that the war on trafficking will be fought against distracted opponents. But of course, nothing is simple at the border.

To tell more would be to give too much away. Sollima has managed to craft a follow-up that perfectly inhabits the world created in Sicario. Villeneuve had a way of putting his camera in places that made the audience feel like they were in the vehicle crossing the border or in the hidden tunnels used to traffic drugs. Sollima, especially in action sequences, gives us that same perspective, heightening the tension with every note of Hildur Guonadottir’s haunting score. One of the biggest obstacles to a sequel in my mind was going to be that the protagonist (I use that term loosely) of this film was going to be a guy who we saw murder women and children in the first film. Taylor Sheridan is able to more fully round out the character of Alejandro in a way that doesn’t ask the audience to root for him but also doesn’t allow him to be despised. Once again, Del Toro is electric in the role, but at this point in his career, saying that Benicio Del Toro is great is pretty redundant because he’s just fantastic in everything. Most of the tales that Hollywood tells of hitmen either glamorize or bring a sense of humor to the profession. S:DotS shows us the blunt reality of the job, but Del Toro never lets Alejandro become a monster. Speaking of redundant, Josh Brolin is also fantastic as Graver. His character isn’t fleshed out too much more (other than apparently he’s left his flip-flops behind for a comfy pair of Crocs), but being in the dark about his past is what makes his character work so well. Isabela Moner shows a deep inner strength as Isabel Reyes, the kidnapped teen, even as she’s completely terrified and in the dark as to what’s happening to her.

This film is tight, this film is tense, and this film is timely. Child separation, human trafficking, terrorism…those are all things that you can read about on the front page of your newspaper tomorrow morning. And Sicario: Day of the Soldado doesn’t presume to have any answers to these issues. While the original gave us Kate Mercer and her earnestness and her moral compass to see this world through, this film kind of just makes us sit in the filth and be disgusted (hopefully) by the machinations on both sides of this volatile scenario. There aren’t winners. There aren’t losers. It’s all just dirty.

So don’t go see Sicario: Day of the Soldado if you need a couple of hour diversion from your problems. But if you want a thoughtful, well-executed thriller, you’re not afraid to sit with a bit of ambiguity, and you enjoyed (or at least saw) the first installment, I think it’s worth your time.

Rating:


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.