Mini-Review: Sicario: Day Of The Soldado
Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado marks the return of screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, along with actors Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro reprising their roles, with relatively unknown director Stefano Sollima and frequent Ridley Scott cinematographer Dariusz Wolski replacing Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins respectively, which are no small shoes to fill.
Ostensibly a standalone film, it's hard not to compare or uphold Day of the Soldado — a film that is objectively an unnecessary sequel — to the excellence and high standards of its predecessor, which is genetically superior in ever way. What makes the first film feel so special is how it depicts this dark world through the innocent and naive eyes of its central protagonist, played by Emily Blunt, whose absence in the standalone sequel is sorely felt.
Unfortunately, Day of the Soldado trades in any nuance, subtlety or humanizing elements for pure bleakness and brutality, which only goes to service the war on drugs' downhill footrace to the bottom, where no one emerges with any shred of dignity and everyone loses.
It begins as a paranoid conservative's nightmare with the cartel smuggling in jihadist suicide bombers to increase border security, and ergo driving up the price of drugs as a result. The U.S. response is to covertly retaliate in simulated cartel hits and by kidnapping a kingpin's daughter (played by Isabela Moner), who is the real humanizing heartbeat of the film, in hopes of disrupting the harmony of the cartel groups to provoke more violence that will only perpetuate the everlasting cycle of cartel violence...
The narrative ends up course correcting the conservative nightmare with a throwaway line about two of the jihadist suicide bombers actually being U.S. citizens living in Kansas City and not smuggled illegals from the Mexican border. The film then morphs into a different kinda film, as the U.S. President (and they never say just who that president is supposed to be) orders the CIA to abandon the mission and erase any proof of American involvement, which includes orders to have the cartel crime boss's daughter executed.
Ultimately devoid of any moments of intrigue or gripping tension, like the first film's border shootout, Day of the Soldado doesn't have much to offer outside of a handful of minor character moments that don't elevate the first film or entice a third installment. Its third act almost makes some bold moves, but doesn't have the bulge to do anything truly daring, and the final scene shameless sets up a third film and undercuts any of this derelict sequel's potential potency.
All in all, it's a perfectly fine film that will forever live in the shadow of its predecessor. If you want to violently kill two hours by staring in the soulless abyss, Day of the Soldado is the film for you. If you seek to gain anything extra out of your cinematic experience, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.
Rating: 3 bullets to the head outta 5.
What did you think? Was Sicario 2 a worthy sequel? Was Emily Blunt's absence felt? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!