“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” (Columbia)

Josh Brolin, Jeffrey Donovan and Benicio Del Toro star in a scene from the movie "Sicario: Day of the Soldado." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. (CNS/Lionsgate)

By Catholic News Service

After evidence suggests Mexican drug cartels have aided jihadi terrorists to enter the United States, a federal agent (Josh Brolin) and a lawyer-turned-hitman (Benicio Del Toro) set out to provoke a war among the gangs by kidnapping a kingpin’s preteen daughter (Isabela Moner), an act they hope will be blamed on a rival syndicate. But the operation goes awry with consequences that test the main characters’ most fundamental humanity.

The artistic intent of director Stefano Sollima’s follow-up to 2015’s “Sicario” is clear, though returning screenwriter Taylor Sheridan tries to have it both ways, inviting viewers to revel in the down-and-dirty tactics and gritty tough-guy milieu, then appealing to their sense of basic decency. Yet what puts the film completely out of bounds is a climactic sequence so stomach-turningly gory and gruesome as to be unjustifiable by any dramatic context.

Excessive bloody violence, at least one use of profanity, constant rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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