Do you think the agenda of President Trump overshadowed the plot?
Yes, you go in and realize instead of going against drug cartels, they are now taking on coyote cartels of the border. I think the producers/writers of the film picked an appropriate theme of the border, but the draconian policy of the real US executive has made this movie a bit toxic to swallow. Probably, the producers had no idea we would be separating families simply trying to escape to a better life, worse than the Japanese-Americans were treated in internment camps after Pearl Harbor attack. I think with time and the real-life controversy dies down, we can take a more honest view of the movie alone with a historical setting.
How dark was the movie?
Well, one of the changes they made in the sequel was to take out the FBI agent played by Emily Blunt, which kind of sewed the first Sicario movie together. She represented our pure conscious being taken into this dark field of the drug cartel war on the border. Here, her innocence is replaced by two children: the cartel's young teen daughter Isabel Reyes and a teen boy Miguel Hernandez entering the cartel to make some money out of poverty. I think these are the best ways to balance the equation in the film of what happens to two sides of the same coin of the border cartel. I think they could have developed Miguel's side a lot more to really contrast how they both lose their innocence of youth as the cartel, CIA battle over these tokens.
What did you think of the story?
It had a very weird flow. Act One is blistering out of the gate, where is this going type of film. It really starts with international terrorism, swings over to Yemen and then back to the US-Mexico border. So the beginning is very exciting and sets a great pace. The middle act, really drags out as you don't know where the plot is going, but overall makes sense. You go from a really fast out of the gate to a microcosm within the story with great character development around Alejandro and Isabela, but it is almost an entirely different movie. The third act comes full circle, but is extremely small (film length) and very anti-climatic. I enjoyed the premise of the film, but the ending was very unsatisfying, especially as we don't really find out what happens to Isabella, they tell us, but they really should have shown us (director error). Film is visual, so they should have shown it I believe. In the end, we wonder what is the point of the whole operation, which is similar to how the first Sicario left us, but not as sick to our stomachs. Here we are dealing with children messed up and that doesn't sit well especially with the bad optics from the current US presidency and ICE.
What would you change in the film?
I think the number one thing is to change the marketing. I think they really screwed this up, by showing too much of the best scenes of the movie online, so you kind of feel let down by the rest of the movie. Partially, it has to do with how the plot of the movie starts in one direction and does a belly flop in the middle of the movie. I think another element I would change would be further developing Miguel's descent into the cartel. They do some scenes, but a few more would really have created more sympathy and better balance the film out. I think one major issue was how US President Trump kind of upstaged this movie, but there's no adjustment that could have been made in the film to cut down on the visceral connection. It was a risk the director went with and now owns. The commentary about the border cartels make a very great connection in that all types of people are involved, even soccer moms, which really brings the issue full and center.
How has this film been a reflection in your art?
Actually, I identify fairly strongly with Isabela's character. I was ripped away from my father in a bitter divorce that left me stranded 10 hours away with a crazy mother thanks to the US court system. So I strongly identify with a government believing they are doing the right thing with a very myopic vision that destroys children's lives. Similarly, Trump is literally making a really tough life choice of crossing the border and abandoning your life and compounding it into a prison sentence and separation anxiety just for crossing the border. I lost all respect for him and his wife especially on that decision of separating kids from their families for political points.
In my art, I think I have this battle between colors, lines and the scars of continually moving around from a mother that couldn't hold down a job to save her life. My art has that disorder and chaos right on the canvas. Below is a painting from my Metal Mayhem style that reflects the pain, chaos and anger within.