MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” stars Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2), Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects, Guardians of the Galaxy), Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight, 100 Things to Do Before High School [TV series]), Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice [TV series], Changeling), Catherine Keener (Incredibles 2, Get Out ), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven , Cake), Matthew Modine (The Dark Knight Rises, Full Metal Jacket), Shea Wigham (Non-Stop, Take Shelter), Elijah Rodriguez (The Book of Life, We Die Young), and David Castañeda (The Umbrella Academy [TV series], The Ascent). It is directed by Stefano Sollima (Suburra, Gomorrah [TV series]) and Taylor Sheridan (Wind River, Hell or High Water). Sent by the goverment to level the playing field in the U.S.-Mexican border after a vicious terrorist attack is committed on U.S. soil, federal agent Matt Graver (Brolin) hires on Alejandro (Del Toro) to create a conspiracy in hopes of starting a war.
With the sequel train chugging along in the box office circuit, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” hits theaters looking to break even and capitalize on the Denis Villeneuve hit that was released three years ago (geez, time flies). Being that I reviewed “Sicario” a few years back, my recollection of the feature is quite sparse. If anything, I remember how I felt about it. The story was hard-hitting and unforgiving, having been crafted by Taylor Sheridan who returns to write this second outing. Unfortunately, Villeneuve did not fill the director shoes once more, as his touch on the first flick was visually inspiring, and encapsulated the story masterfully. It’s what you expect from the man who directed “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049.” While he is missed, I wouldn’t say that the direction was an issue when I saw this sequel with friends a few nights ago. What makes “Sicario 2” so surprising is the fact that it was even made in the first place. Not to cut anyone down, but who would’ve thought that Sony would invest in another outing of a movie that seemed so invested in a singular theme its first go-around, and through the eyes of a character that isn’t even in this installment at that. Rather than focusing on Emily Blunt, we shift our eyes to the characters that are portrayed by Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, both of whom showed pure grit and little remorse in the last movie. If memory serves me right (and judging by the character personalities displayed in this sequel), Brolin was the overseer, while Del Toro was the enforcer; a sort of John Wick if you will. You gotta hand it to Del Toro in this picture, as he’s surely the best part of the whole thing. His performance was gritty yet well-composed, displaying the most bad-a** character of the viewing experience. Brolin also did well, like everyone else involved. It’s quite interesting to see just how much Brolin has done in film this year; he’s made quite a successful run in summer movies, with returns from “Infinity War” and “Deadpool 2” rolling in. While “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” isn’t bad, it’s certainly the slowest and smallest entry the actor has turned in summer of 2018. The story is strong, but the execution wasn’t as stifling or edgy as I expected it to be by the trailers. This is a slow-paced affair, taking its time to move these characters across the board and approach their respective destinations. It’s not flashy, nor does it present a forgiving ending. You may think it doesn’t bookend itself like a typical action flick, but that’s because the thing prides itself in pulpy dialogue and subtle, brutal action that resembles “No Country for Old Men.” It doesn’t care to hit climactic beats, for it only looks to bring tensity through dialogue specifically, and whether or not it succeeded is another matter. I liked “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” but I think it would take another viewing to fully appreciate it. When I said it was slow-paced, I meant it. The first act was a bit hard to get through, as it was mainly government politics and starting up the mission. We certainly need set-up, but I didn’t feel too attracted to the matter at hand as I wanted. The story jumps between three different characters, all of who cross paths by the end of the outing. They were all okay, but I think I could’ve been invested in them more with a more hearty dialogue to give them personalities that pop. Things really pick up when Del Toro appears, and from then on things get interesting. Granted, the film has its dull moments. Whereas “Sicario” packed a punch with brutal visuals to show the horrors of the war on drugs at the Mexican border, “Day of the Soldado” focuses more on the progression of government conspiracy and the consequences of such. There’s not as much action or horrific images, and while that shouldn’t be a crutch, I don’t think the dialogue was perfect enough to carry the show. It does enough good to carve out our main characters and deliver some awesome moments that are sprinkled throughout the second and third act, but I think I was craving a bit more grit and pulp by the end of it. We get tastes of this in a few quintessential moments, as I just mentioned, and they are the best parts of this release. Taylor Sheridan has a gift of making gut-punching third acts (at least when you look at “Sicario” and “Wind River”), and “Day of the Soldado” delivers with a brutal scene involving Del Toro in the Mexican desert. I won’t go into spoilers, but it was an awesome character moment that was both messed up and gritty to see. There are things to enjoy in this sequel. The new direction gave way to beautiful shots that really took in the atmosphere of the border, and the action sequences (for however few there were) were choreographed well. It doesn’t put you on the edge of your seat like the first outing did, but it does enough to keep you satisfied by its end. While I didn’t necessarily care for the final moments of the feature, I did like the lead up to it a lot. Overall, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” while not as intense as it’s predecessor, delivers on strong performances by Del Toro and Brolin, and has some great moments that are sure to stick. FINAL SCORE: 85%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: