Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Everyone wants a franchise; it’s a surefire thing that guarantees revenue down the road. The problem is that not every story can become a franchise. Black Label Media has decided to turn its 2015 critical darling Sicario into a franchise now with this year’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado.
Day of the Soldado is a fairly stand-alone film that simply has the recurring characters of Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) the CIA black ops operative and his right-hand hitman Alejandro (Benicio del Toro). Soldado focuses on the troubles at the U.S. Mexico border, much like the first film. However, this film centers on the kidnapping of a cartel kingpin’s daughter (Isabela Moner).
As with any sequel, the first film always did it better. That’s not to say that this film doesn’t have its benefits. It doesn’t have the subtleties in the political messages that director Dennis Villeneuve gave the first film, but replacement director Stefano Sollima does well to up the ante with more brutal and harrowing scenes depicting the collateral damage of civilians. And while the first film didn’t dive into the character’s backstories so much, Soldado decides to keep digging into Alejandro’s past and the path that leads innocent people to the dark underworld depicted.
Returning screenwriter Taylor Sheridan is able to keep much of the essence of the dirty workings that have to be performed in order to fight the world’s evils; however, the political messages he tries to bring across come about in an incredibly blunt manner. Sheridan’s story does maintain solidity in its structure throughout until he reaches the finale, which fizzles out as the screen turns black; it begs the question of whether Sheridan truly had time to think of a proper ending or if the studio rushed him to put out a sequel. Sollima as a director chooses to focus on intensifying the action and with the use of long takes and close shots; he makes the story seem incredibly immersive so that the tension is tuned up making us forget of some of the script’s failings. The action executions along with the fabulous returning performances of Brolin and del Toro, and a brilliant revelation from Isabela Moner make Soldado as well as a surprising sequel, and a satisfying viewing overall.