Apparently these guys didn't see the first film.
"So you want to be a Sicario... come on in... close the door."
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
If you've read my review for the 2015 film Sicario, then you know that I pretty much praised it as a modern day masterpiece. The overall attention to detail on nearly every aspect of the film was truly memorable. As with many great films, you can't help but to compare their sequels/remakes/reimaginings with the original. The bar is usually set with the first. Why do you think that the entire Underworld series sucked? The first one was mediocre and every following sequel (and Prequel) did nothing to improve upon it.
Now Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a much better sequel than it could have been, yet it misses those little touches that made the original so damned intriguing. Something is just a bit off here. It would be easy for me to say that the absences of director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049), and actress Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow), were the biggest reasons (and they are), however I believe that there are a few other reasons as well, mainly stemming from the story. Blunt's character was crucial for the audience to have a sympathetic connection to while the world around her was going to hell. In Day of the Soldado, there's nobody to relate to. All are wolves, including Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight) as a kidnapping victim. Okay maybe wolf is a stretch, but she plays a worldly tough ass who's the daughter of a cartel boss, and can handle things better than the average schoolgirl. Her character could have been overused as a larger plot device, when luckily instead she's not allowed to take over the entire picture. Josh Brolin's (Inherent Vice) and Benicio del Toro's (Guardians of the Galaxy) return helps to keep things familiar, yet even they don't hit that level of magnetism like before. Regardless, they are still a much welcome sight, including an extra scene or two from Jeffery Donovan's (Burn Notice) offbeat agent. The third act is the film's best part. The politics of the story don't hit as hard this time, and the societal ramifications on the victims is largely ignored. Brolin may be able to show some humanity in his quiet stares at times, yet it's not enough to make up for all that was lost in the translation from Part 1.
Instead of an emotional impact, Sicario: Day of the Soldado goes more for rugged action than previously. The sequences of shootings and explosions are well shot and planned, even if they're not as tension filled as when Deakins filmed them. The musical score doesn't steal from the late Johann Johannsson's (Prisoners) award nominated compositions, instead it morphs those into its own sound for this film, which gives it a distinct stamp. I wish that there had been some more substance this time, because I never found myself admiring the details of every scene like I did before.
Final ThoughtsTaylor Sheridan's (Hell or High Water) writing is not enough to make Sicario: Day of the Soldado great. It takes a whole cast and crew of talented filmmakers to make every piece fall into place. Last time was brilliant. This time is definitely fun, but the meaningful impact is AWOL. Let's hope that the third part in this planned trilogy brings all of those missing pieces back. My level of disappointment isn't that bad though, because this could've easily been done on a straight-to-video quality in it's place, right where those Underworld movies belong.
Rating- 6.5 out of 10
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)
R | 2h 2min | Action, Crime, Drama | 29 June 2018 (USA)
The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.
Director: Stefano Sollima
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner