Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Ok so let me begin by saying that I am a fan of the original Sicario film, which really made me look forward to this piece of a series. I never expected the original to be as successful as it was and by the looks of it neither did the makers. You can see that throughout this film.
Sicario: Day of the soldado is an all you can eat buffet filled with Trumpian anxieties. Bad hombres coming from Mexico and not only that, they are smuggling terrorists from the middle east. CIA enforcer Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is given free rein to obliterate the crime syndicates with whatever dirty tactics he sees fit.
Uneasily following Denis Villeneuve’s seminal, blood-pumping 2015 thriller, Soldado is shorn of many of its predecessor’s winning attributes. Emily Blunt, a conflicted, magnetic centre new to the anarchic world of vice and violence, is gone, as is Villeneuve’s sturdy guiding hand and the delicate, artful eye of the inimitable Roger Deakins.
Without these key components, Soldado spirals around for a new identity and misses the mark more than it hits. Brolin and Benicio del Toro’s vengeful hitman Alejandro Gillick, once the devil and angel on Blunt’s shoulders, are steeped too deeply in the mire to serve as relatable leads and the promise of a bitter cat-and-mouse between the two fails to emerge fully.
In fact, Soldado flubs most of its most promising pitches. Musings on the loss of innocence to the drug trade through the eyes of Isabela Moner’s gangster’s daughter or Elijah Rodriguez’s wannabe enforcer get buried in the confusion. The film’s politics are a stark muddle of xenophobia and paranoia with no message of note.
While Sicario was a masterclass in vein-busting tension, Soldado is starkly more inconsistent in its delivery of thrills. Director Stefano Sollima conducts action setpieces with robust aplomb, but Sicario’s particular je ne sais quoi was how it maintained that tension inbetween the explosive carnage. Dread in Soldado dissipates as quickly as it manifests.
It derives a killer performance from del Toro, but Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay fails to recapture the lightning in Sicario’s bottle, leading to a sequel that is competently made but ultimately aimless and ineffective.
by Hiram Trillo