Sicario Day of the Soldado
Starring Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Catherine Keener, Elijah Rodriguez
Trying to duplicate something that worked so well because it defied genre borders is exactly why the “Sicario” sequel sets itself up to fail. “Day of the Soldado” isn’t a bad movie, it certainly has its moments of suspense, but lacks the artistic vision of auteur Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) and the cinematic touch of Roger Deakins this time around. Even more than its creators, “Day of the Soldado” underscores how critical Emily Blunt’s performance and character Kate Mercer was to the success of the first film. First time feature film director Stefano Sollima is tasked with creating something that is equal parts familiar and entirely stand alone, which he accomplishes at the expense of originality. Despite the film bragging about “no rules this time” there are more rules than ever.
Top governmental fixer Matt Graver (Brolin) is so high up on the food chain that he gets to wear sandals to work. He is given the opportunity to create a war between Mexican cartels, which in theory, will have them destroying each other. Graver again calls on his Colombian ex-lawyer accomplice Alejandro (del Toro) for this specific mission. The plan to abduct a high-profile cartel leader’s daughter and blame a rival to get things moving, quickly spins out of control when the Mexican police become an unpredictable element in their game. The secret mission begins to crumble leaving Graver and Alejandro at odds on how to proceed with little options.
It’s tendency to follow more generic Hollywood movie plotting is a major flaw.
The original “Sicario” began by knocking down walls, literally, that reverberated throughout the entire film. We were as terrified as Blunt’s character dropped into a house of horror, unequipped for what we were about to see. “Day of the Soldado” doesn’t have that big impressive opening scene. It doesn’t contain well-crafted scenes that will keep people talking for years to come. There is no character for the audience to identify with and 30 minutes into the movie, you realize this sequel just doesn’t have the depth capacity. “Day of Soldado” is being marketed as a more violent action film, but it’s neither more violent nor more action packed. It’s tendency to follow more generic Hollywood movie plotting is a major flaw; characters you think are dead but return, foreseeable explosions or ambushes, and it never grasps the same level of tension.
“Sicario”, “Hell or High Water” and “Wind River” created a law enforcement trilogy from screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. His weakest screenplay to date, Sheridan’s expected artistry is absent here. Dariusz Wolski (“The Martian”) does ok work behind the camera, but there won’t be any lasting discussions on his accomplishments here. The musical score doesn’t play as prominent role on the tension. Oscar winner del Toro is the lead this time around, his performance is solid, but less amounts to so much more with these types of films. Day of the Soldado might do better at the box office because Sony feels they have a commodity, but the prestige and award worthy elements are lost.
Elements that elevated the original to an A grade film are missing in the sequel.