In Sicario: Day of the Soldado, the series begins a new chapter. In the drug war, there are no rules – and as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border, federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) calls on the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), whose family was murdered by a cartel kingpin, to escalate the war in nefarious ways.
Alejandro kidnaps the kingpin’s daughter to inflame the conflict – but when the girl is seen as collateral damage, her fate will come between the two men as they question everything they are fighting for.
The follow-up to the 2015 triple Oscar nominee has lost a few key players, including Oscar nominees Johann Johannsson and Roger Deakins, along with star Emily Blunt and director Denis Villeneuve. To say their absence can be felt is an understatement. On the one hand, it’s somewhat unfair to compare the current crew to that talented quartet, but director Stefano Sollima so often mimics the first film that it’s impossible not to do so. For example, the extended shots of helicopters along the US-Mexico border return, along with an imposing score, and a few road-set shootouts. And so we’re constantly reminded of elements that were simply done better in the last film and of the importance of craftsmen like Johannsson, Deakins, and Villeneuve.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a mean movie. That’s sort of its thing. Much like the previous installment of this unlikely franchise, the film drapes itself in darkness so that it can focus our attention on any stray specks of light; one early shot, in which the white halo of a helicopter spotlight tracks a brown man as he sprints towards the Texas border during the dead of night, provides a convenient visual metaphor.
It’s also a hard movie, in the way that Josh Brolin’s jawline is hard, or that Hemingway is hard, or that trying to carve a coherent narrative out of the Escher-like power struggle of the Mexican Drug War is hard. Like “Sicario,” “Wind River,” and everything else that Taylor Sheridan has ever scripted, “Day of the Soldado” feels like it was written on a bender of whiskey and Viagra — even the female characters have big swinging d**ks, because Sheridan seems to know one great way of expressing real strength.
BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY:
Basil Iwanyk, Edward L. McDonnell, Molly Smith, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill
Ellen H. Schwartz, Richard Middleton, Erica Lee
Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Catherine Keener