The war on drugs seems to be the topic of discussion around this time in politics. Being the big deal that’s going on the action thriller Sicario: Day of the Soldado, it shouldn’t be surprising that it will delve into deep conversations that our government is tackling at this moment. Can this stand-alone film follow the excitement from before?
What’s the Story?: The government suspects drug cartels has reached a high point in today’s world in suspecting that they’re sneaking terrorists across the border. In all hopes to pushing this forward from ever happening something like this again, CIA operative Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and hitman Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) are trying to put an end to this before starting a war.
The first Sicario, released back in 2015, was an intense crime thriller and was considered as one of the year’s best films. Even though it was a slow movie, as with every Denis Villeneuve movie, the film just grabbed me with the help of the performances, direction, score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson and the beautiful cinematography. But the news of a sequel actually coming about didn’t strike me. Maybe it’s because we have no Villeneuve, Emily Blunt, or Roger Deakins doing the cinematography. However, Del Toro and Brolin are back and Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the first film, is writing the script. And the trailers were very interesting as this could be a surprise addition to this new found Sicario saga. Walking out and thinking about it as I was driving home, I come to realize that Day of the Soldado didn’t need to be made.
Stefano Sollima (Suburra) takes over for the series to give us another brutal look in the world and he does a serviceable job. Unlike the previous, there’s little tension that I found throughout Day of the Soldado. It has a slow pace, but it’s much better this time around.
With two of his main stars coming back, Del Toro’s Alejandro was probably the best thing about the first film, and I was glad they made him the main character this time around because he’s been on my mind ever since. Brolin has been dominating the summer again after Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 with another performance that he’s capable of. The scenes that they have together really worked for the film overall.
The action sequences were good enough; nothing was all that memorable, but it kept my attention anytime it gets intense. There wasn’t a single moment in the film that wasn’t heart-pounding like the border ambush or the “Time to Meet God” moment with Alejandro.
The first act started to gain my attention with a gripping opening sequence and what Del Toro is able to do as his character. But after it ended, it started to go in another direction with a different tone that I didn’t see coming and it was poorly executed from my viewpoint. After a while, it started to lose me with what’s really going on. Alejandro starts some sort of connection with Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner), the daughter of a cartel kingpin who was kidnapped.
Sheridan’s script is by far the weakest out of all his writings. What I’ve come to finally understand his scripts is that he gives underlying messages about current climates that the world is going through. It has gives us an idea about the message about children being involved with terrorist and drug world, which we probably haven’t seen a lot of that. There’s a subplot with this kid who wants to be in the cartel, and it honestly wasn’t interesting to care about whenever it cuts back to that plotline. And if you’re expecting a lot of Catherine Keener, it’s basically wasted.
Disappointing is what I should describe Sicario: Day of the Soldado as it didn’t feel like a proper sequel. Aside from the performances, nothing was a massive standout. It’s just that the first film ended very strongly while not feeling like a setup for a possible follow-up. Seemingly to be a timely film to come out at this time, but it’s most likely that I’m gonna watch the original film more times than time, unsurprisingly.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado, of course, comes nowhere near the enjoyment of its predecessor, but Del Toro and Brolin’s performances couldn’t save this unnecessary sequel with little captivation. Grade: C+