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Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the unnecessary sequel you didn’t want nor need don’t outright hate its existence. I walked in with low expectations, and walked out satisfied enough that I did not feel as if I had wasted my time and money. While I would not go to the top of a mountain exclaiming my love for this movie to the heavens, imploring people they must watch it and that it’s absolutely a great movie, it’s still a reasonably good, engaging follow-up to 2015’s excellent crime thriller, Sicario.

Writer Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Wind River) returns to tackle the Mexican drug cartels and the dangers of the US-Mexico border once more, with a little bit of Islamic terrorism for good measure this time around. Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Blade Runner 2049) does not return to the director’s chair this time around. Instead we have Stefano Sollima. While not well known here in North America, he is still a big name in his native Italy with effective crime dramas such as ACAB – All Cops Are Bastards and the Italian-American co-production between RAI and Netflix, Suburra. This time the cartels are smuggling foreign Islamic terrorists across the border, because I’m apparently the only one who remembers Act of Valor. Remember Act of Valor? It’s an action movie from 2012 filmed with active duty Navy SEALs, all but one of whom’s identities remain unrevealed to this day as stopping Islamic terrorists from sneaking into the US via the US-Mexico border.

Anyways, Secretary of Defense Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, The Dark Knight Rises) commissions CIA agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to start a war between the cartels as a means of causing chaos, hopefully to help dispel more terrorists from being smuggled in and have the cartels war with each other so as to cut off that supply route. To that end, Graver recruits his ally from the last movie, Colombian sicario (assassin) and cartel killer Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) for a false flag operation. The plan is to kill a lawyer for one of the biggest cartels, then kidnap the daughter of the head of the other biggest cartel, making it look like retaliation for the lawyer being killed. As is the case in movies, things do not go exactly as planned.

One of the major benefits of this sequel is that there’s no Emily Blunt (Looper, Edge of Tomorrow) anywhere in sight! Now that I’ve unleashed a storm of hatred upon myself for that, I’m going to say she was the most boring part of Sicario! I’ve never been enamored with Blunt as an actress, finding her merely “okay”. And her attempt at an American accent was bad. Thankfully she can sound convincingly American as of A Quiet Place. Here, there is a much more interesting B-story to fill that vacuum. His name is Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez), and he’s a Mexican-American boy who works as a “coyote”, helping smuggle migrants across the border as he knows both sides of the border near his home-town like the back of his hand. Soon his path crosses with the main plot, with unforseen consequences.

There’s also more focus on Graver and Gillick this time around, and that’s when the movie is at its best! The chemistry between Brolin and Del Toro really shines with these characters, as their alliance is shown to be a more more vulnerable than thought. We also delve into the hidden humanity of these dark, morally ambiguous characters, found through the teenage daughter in the movie they’ve been assigned to kidnap, Isabella Reyes (Isabella Moner).

While there’s no denying that the first movie packs more punch and is a much more engaging tale, Day of the Soldado is not terrible by any means. It’s just okay, not excellent like the first. While Sicario 1 is more a crime thriller, Soldado is definitely more an action thriller. If you loved Sicario, you’ll probably like this, just slightly less. If action is more your bread and butter than crime drama, then you might like this more than Sicario. All in all, it’s a reasonably engaging movie and I’ll probably see the third one.

What do you think?

Written by Alexander Trovini

Cinephile. Love movies, history, books, video games. Star Wars, 007, Law and Order, Person of Interest, Marvel, DC, Indiana Jones, Sonic, Mario, Tom Clancy. Fun-lover.

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