Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the standalone spin-off to the 2015 crime/suspense/drama Sicario which starred Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. I say Standalone as this is not exactly a continuation of the events of the first film. Also, Blunt’s character Kate Macer does not return for this entry. Instead, this one focuses on the characters of Alejandro Gillick and Matt Graver, played by Del Toro and Brolin, respectively.
After a group of suicide bombers are linked to Mexican Drug Cartels, the president has designated all Mexican Cartels as a terrorist organization. The secretary of defense, played by Matthew Modine, decides to bring in Graver (Brolin) to disrupt the cartels by pitting them against one another. For this, Graver brings in his favored associate Alejandro (Del Toro) to help start this conflict by kidnapping Isabel, played by Isabela Moner, the youngest daughter of cartel head Carlos Reyes, who had a hand in the deaths of Alejandro’s wife and daughter. While the operation is a success, things quickly go left, leading to a series of events that will have life altering consequences to everyone involved…
When the first Sicario came out, I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of greatness that that movie possessed. Truly a modern masterpiece. Sicario was an amazing achievement, particularly the 3 lead performances, the fantastic writing by then debuting screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, the beautiful cinematography by the incomparable Roger Deakins, and the masterful direction by modern auteur Denis Villenueve. That being said, film didn’t really warrant a follow-up, as the ending had an perfect finality to it. So I was skeptical when this one was announced. But I’m happy to say, my fears were put to bed thoroughly, because this movie blew me away just as much as the first one did!
While Villenueve nor Deakins returned, their replacements Stefano Sollima and Dariusz Wolski do a great job taking up the reins. I like that they didn’t mimic Villeneuve and Deakins as much as saw what they accomplished with the first film and just built from there. Sollima imbues the movie with amazing tension and dread. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. And Wolski’s cinematography is exceptional.
There’s not many action sequences, but the ones that are there beefed up considerably from the first one. Not Commando levels of gunfire, but really taut and suspenseful. Kudos to him. And returning writer Sheridan once again works his magic to bring us another breathless screenplay. Seriously, after the first movie, Hell or High Water, Wind River, and now this, Sheridan has definitely positioned himself as one of the best writers working today.
The performances from Del Toro and Brolin really anchor this film. Especially Del Toro, whose character is given a bit more depth than the first one. There’s a scene where he has a conversation with a deaf man using sign language, and when he reveals how he learned to use sign language, I genuinely teared up. It’s so great to see Del Toro spearheading his own franchise. He truly deserves it.
Most of his scenes are shared with the young Moner, and their relationship becomes the centerpiece of the movie. Moner is wonderful as the feisty Isabel. A girl who is aware of her father’s reputation and wears it like a badge of honor, but as the story moves along, she grows more and more despondent of it. And then there’s Brolin. Brolin is having sooo much fun here. He is obviously relishing in playing this type of character. And I’m loving every minute of it. Who would’ve thought that the older brother from The Goonies would become the megastar he has become today? After Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, and now this, this summer truly belongs to Brolin. You’ve come a long way, Brand…
Any nitpicks? The ending. It really leaves you hanging. You’re so immersed into the world and the story that when it ends, you’re like “NOOOO! I WANT MORE!” Hopefully this movie is really successful, because I need to know what happens next! And ASAP! But all in all, I thought this was a more than worthy follow up to its predecessor. I like this so much, I’m still contemplating which one I like more. I’m gonna have to see it again soon to make a decision. Funny thing, I don’t have to see it soon. I just want to.
It’s that good.