Cert 15 122mins Stars 4

There’s a grim foreboding looming over this bone dry sequel to 2015’s scorching crime action thriller.

Once again we’re in thrown in to the vicious warfare on the US Mexican border, contested by Federal agents, police and gangsters, with civilians caught in the crossfire.

Sadly Emily Blunt doesn’t return as she’s too busy making the Mary Poppins sequel which is due at Christmas, and there’s no denying she’s a big miss.

However this allows the brooding charisma of Benicia Del Toro to take centre stage, reprising his role as Alejandro.

The attorney turned assassin is so world weary he no longer celebrates Christmas, but is lured from his hideout in Colombia by the promise of revenge on the cartel boss who murdered his family.

He’s recruited  by a beefy Josh Brolin, who again plays a dark ops CIA agent, now tasked with starting a war between the Mexican cartels in order to shore up the US southern border.

But among the shifting sands of foreign policy, corrupt police elements and rival cartels, Alejandro finds himself protecting the teenage daughter of the man he’s sworn to kill.

Young Isabela Moner is very strong in her role of few words, conveying an inner conflict as she begins to experience the violence through which her fathers wealth is generated.

Scriptwriter Taylor Sheridan is responsible for some of the best thrillers in recent years, such as Wind River, and throws in contemporary concerns into the complex mix of allegiances and motives.

So we see people smuggling, domestic terrorism, drone warfare, African piracy and a great deal of military hardware.

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski achieves brilliance in his helicopter arial work, and by shovelling dust and dirt over the moral murk, he brings a parched intensity to the intense and bloody action sequences.

And I wouldn’t rule out a return for Blunt to conclude a third chapter.

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