Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a brutal and grim sequel that did not need to be made. It is also a film that has to follow in the footsteps of an incredible original film, and it tries hard but never reaches the heights of the original. That being said, the film by itself is actually not a bad film.
Day of the Soldado, compared to the first film is a simpler film that gets a little muddled in the middle, but has more action and less of a sense of paranoia and dread that the first film had. There was also an undercurrent of sadness which ran under the action and machismo of the first film that is missing in Day of the Soldado.
Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin both anchor the film in its increased levels of testosterone. Catherine Keener is wonderful in her role, but completely underutilized; and Jeffery Donovan is barely recognizable in the film.
Taylor Sheridan’s script is tight and focused, even if it gets a little lost in the center. The direction by Stefano Sollima is solid, though it does stick closely with the style set forth by Denis Villeneuve. The score by Hildur Guonadottir also sticks closely to the themes developed by Johann Johannsson. The cinematography by Dariusz Wolski is gorgeous and, like the direction and score, sticks closely with what was established by Roger Deakins. This film is like a photocopy of the first, but just not as good.
What this film is missing is a character like Emily Blunt’s character in the first film, something human that the audience can related to and latch onto. There is a kid in the film that, at first feels like the Blunt character, but as the film continues, we find that he’s nothing like that. And around half-way through the film, I started wondering how the kid was going to figure into the whole scheme of things. The coincidences with the kid were a bit much also and hard to believe.
While there were quite a few more action sequences in this new film, none of them reach the intensity as the ones in the first film. There is no standout and tense scene like the one in the first at the border crossing.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado is not a bad film by any means. The film is pretty much self-contained and there’s no real need to see the first to enjoy this one. Compared to the first one though, this film is merely entertaining and feels a bit superficial. Should it have been made? Probably not. Am I glad I saw it? Yes, it is still a good film.
The ending of the film is very American and I did not appreciate it. Benicio Del Toro’s character should have been left dead in the desert, it was not very wise to revive him in the fashion that they did, not all films need happy endings – most especially a film that revels in the darkness of the human condition.
The kid’s story was not very well fleshed out and I got to a point where I found him a bit annoying. There was no motivation given for why he was doing what he was doing, outside of some peer pressure. There was no way for me to care about the kid and at the end of the film when he is confronted by Alejandro, I expected Alejandro to kill the kid off instead of trying to recruit the kid as a sicario. The kid felt like a character that only existed to drive the plot along and that felt lazy.