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Josh Brolin having massively successful movie summer

Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Infinity War." Thanos is played by Josh Brolin

FILM FRAME, MARVEL STUDIOS 2018

By RICK BENTLEY | Tribune News Service | Published: June 30, 2018

Josh Brolin has been appearing in films and TV series for more than 33 years. Many productions -- “No Country for Old Men,” “Only the Brave,” “Milk,” “American Gangster” -- have earned him high praise and been successful at the box office. Despite such a rich legacy of work, Brolin had never made a sequel. Technically, Brolin has played the character of Thanos in several movies based on Marvel Comics, but most appearances were not long enough to even be considered a cameo.

His lack of work on a sequel changed with “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” the follow-up to his 2015’s “Sicario.” He reprises his role of federal agent Matt Graver, who is called to look into the possibility the cartels are helping terrorists get across the Mexican-American border. Graver’s approach to the problem is to throw out the rules and do whatever is necessary to accomplish his mission.

It wasn’t until Brolin was in the middle of filming “Day of the Soldado” that someone pointed out this would be his first sequel.

“I don’t always get it right, but I’m a sucker for a great story. Then if you have a filmmaker (director Stefano Sollima) on top of it who has an interesting perspective and to get to work with Benny (Benicio del Toro) again, it all just worked out,” Brolin says.

There had been talk of a possible sequel while “Sicario” was filming, but everyone was so focused the idea of getting to continue to play the character again was forgotten. Once Brolin saw the script by Taylor Sheridan, the idea of making “Day of the Soldado” became interesting to him.

The fact del Toro was coming back was the clincher because the two actors have great trust in each other. Brolin loves working with del Toro because they make each other “professionally uncomfortable.”

In the new film, Graver calls on Alejandro (del Toro), who continues to deal with his family being murdered by a cartel kingpin, to help him fan the flames of a war between the cartels. The key is kidnapping one of the kingpins’ young daughter.

Brolin goes on to say with del Toro, there are two masculine protagonists that in one way look like they are antagonists, but they’re not.

“So that to me is what’s interesting about this film. You have these guys that are good guys, but they’re not really good guys. And they’re dealing with something really bad, but they’re dealing with people who are in such poverty that you understand,” Brolin says.

“Day of the Soldado” is officially a sequel, but Brolin is convinced there’s been enough time between the two films that they end up being very different. A lot of that has to do with his character.

“If you want to look at the humanity of it all, I think he’s cracked. I think he lives in such an arrogant place in the first movie that when things don’t go the way he plans, it’s humbling and brings out the humanity in him,” Brolin says. “Within the humiliation he has felt, you are seeing a crack in the armor where you can finally see some sensitivity.

“It’s interesting to see how he reacts to that. Sometimes it’s emotionally. Sometimes it’s with this incredible act of violence. It is a great study of people. I think this movie feels more personal than the last movie.”

Grand perspective on the character and the film is one of the things Sollima loved about working with Brolin. The director was impressed that Brolin always knew where his character was at any given moment and that he was equally aware of where all the other characters were.

Brolin developed that skill with work in the films “Hail, Caesar!,” “Everest,” “Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For,” “Inherent Vice” and “True Grit.” There’s not been a point in the 50-year-old actor’s career that he has experienced the kind of box office success he’s having this summer. Before “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” even opened, his work as Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War” and Cable in “Deadpool 2” has given him a global box office draw of more than $2.7 billion.

“There’s been nothing like this for me. It’s unheard of unless you are (Robert) Downey (Jr.) or (Dwayne) The Rock (Johnson),” Brolin says.

The three films are vastly different in tone and look, but the link between all three characters Brolin plays in the movies is each is an anti-hero. They all end up doing horrible things, but each is driven by the idea they are being done for a greater good. He likes the idea that instead of just dismissing the characters as being evil, audiences are showing sympathy and understanding for what they are doing.

“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” at least gives Brolin a chance to show his face, as he is hidden behind layers of makeup and CGI work playing Thanos and Cable. He likes that he’s getting to show his face in “Day of the Soldado” but doesn’t mind the makeup work for the other two films.

“I like that (expletive),” Brolin says. “I am, like, an old-school theater guy, so I love prosthetics. It is nice though to have the naked emotions of ’Sicario.’”

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