Title: Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Release Date: June 29, 2018
Studio: Black Label Media
Director: Stefano Sollima
Release Format: Theatrical
Running Time: 122 minutes
I came to see this movie completely backwards, but I think it helped me see this film a lot more clearly. I originally saw the preview for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, and thought damn this looks really good. I had never seen the original (directed by the amazing Denis Villeneuve), and this preview was so tense and entertaining it made me go back and check out the first one so I could show up on release day and enjoy the sequel. Seeing them back to back only exacerbated the biggest issue with the sequel: where the hell is Emily Blunt?
On its face, Sicario: Day of the Soldado (henceforth known as Sicario 2) follows the originals storyline pretty closely. They don’t directly cut and paste, but they definitely had the wiki open while they wrote this sequel. There are some deep state type shenanigans going on, led by Matt (Josh Brolin) and he has to enlist his own personal Sicario(the hitman Alejandro, played by Benicio Del Toro). Just like the first one, there is a side storyline that is seemingly pointless, until it ties into the main one at the climax of the film.
Josh Brolin continues his stellar year of performances with this one. He is slightly more likeable in Sicario 2, the movie goes to great lengths to show what he will do for his country- but also shows that he genuinely cares about his job. He isn’t the lead of this movie, but he definitely steals the show a few times. We also have Catherine Keener playing the go between and immediate boss of Matt, Cynthia Foards. She suits the movie fine, not much for her to do besides be there for the main characters to react off of. The other characters just sort of show up, they read some lines and are mostly just background noise. We have that one CIA operative that works with Matt (Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Forsing), he is a stereotype that loves war so much it gives him a boner (and ironically, kills mine). There is also a shady Secretary of State played by Matthew Modine, ya we get it, you are totally a slimy government guy.
The main departure from the original film, is that Alejandro becomes the lead of this film. Gone is the aura of mystique that followed him into every scene previously. Benicio Del Toro is an amazing actor, and he does what he can to pull off the creepy and cold killer that is Alejandro. The problem here is that the plot is working against him at every single turn.
The best part about Sicario was that Emily Blunt’s character (Kate Mercer) is in the dark for most of the movie. She struggles to understand the complicated web she is becoming a part of. The tension from the movie oozes from every scene where she is continuously thrust into situations way above her paygrade and way out of her league of understanding. She is scared and she is vulnerable, the audience feels that and it makes the film the work of art that it is. By the end when Alejandro is in Kate’s apartment, we are so worried about what’s going to happen to Kate that the tension could be cut with a knife.
Sicario 2 is missing that outside point of view. Alejandro isn’t scary anymore, he has become the invincible (complete with plot armor later in the film) protagonist that is out to do the right thing. Without Emily Blunt, we see Alejandro and Matt as just a couple of super spies in an action movie. There is no real tension anymore, they try to build it up- but outside of a crappy fake out, we know the “good” guys are always going to win.
On top of those issues, the plot throws some other sorts of curveballs at us that seem pretty strange. The ending of Sicario has Alejandro getting revenge on the people who murdered his family, but here we have them talking about how he totally still needs revenge. I guess they felt like that was core to his character, unless I missed the part where the bad dude from the first one wasn’t the actual guy who did it. In that case, why the hell is Alejandro just wandering around the streets drinking beer and hanging out? Does he only go revenging when Josh Brolin calls him? Sort of puts the kibosh on him being so driven by his family’s death. After his plot armor incident, Alejandro heads off to go recruiting for hitman school because he has often been shown to want to drag young children into his war (just kidding that never happened, that came out of nowhere).
Sicario 2 is severely missing a neutral character to keep the movie tense. The main actors, especially Del Toro, make up for it a lot with great performances; but even that can’t plug up all the holes in this ship. The Day of the Soldado has come and gone, all we can hope for is the series bounces back for the inevitable third entry.
Verdict: Sicario: Day of the Soldado is an action packed movie that coasts on the set up from the original, it lacks the tension that made the first one so good.
- Benicio Del Toro is on point
- Josh Brolin going 3 for 3 for great performances this year
- Action is done well for the most part
- Tension is nonexistent
- Del Toro plot armor
- Borderline copy and paste job
- Why does he fire that gun like that??
Decades of video games and comic books have molded me into the nerd with a heart of gold that I am today. I can go full fanboy one second, and then gleefully play devil’s advocate the next- life is just more fun that way.