I witnessed the original Sicario without knowing much about anybody behind the scenes, other than the main cast, who I was excited to see together in a film. From start to finish, Sicario awed me with its stellar writing, masterful acting, and remarkable directing. Now, three years after it’s initial release, we are blessed with the release of the sequel, Sicario: Day of Soldado. The question is, was it a worthy successor or a misguided attempt to stretch out a film that never truly needed a second entry?
While Denis Villeneuve may not be reprising his role of director for this film, the pure cinematic presence from the original is clearly back. Stylish, fascinating, and full of grim action, Sicario: Day of the Soldado doesn’t manage to reach the perfection that Villeneuve possessed with the first. The cinematography is slightly different from the original, but it’s still masterfully done and gives a massive presence of the Mexican landscape the characters are traveling through. Stefano Sollima took over the reigns and managed to create a relatively straightforward narrative that with his stellar direction took it much further. The few errors in the film are in the writing and not in the action, which is all stellar from this super fan of Sicario.
Taylor Sheridan never disappoints and he doesn’t here either, although he certainly took some massive missteps with his Day of the Soldado script. Let’s speak about those briefly; one mistake being a young teenager who is brought into the cartel world and decides to pursue the life of a sicario. Unfortunately this character, although well acted, feels like a forced and coincidental addition to the story to lead into future releases. Which brings us to another fault, in that the concluding scene of the film is major sequel bait and I certainly didn’t appreciate the generic conclusion to an otherwise unpredictable film. Now the good (who am I kidding, the great) Sheridan managed to expand on this universe, while not taking it in a confusing direction, but instead just having it be another adventure for the characters from the original, excluding Blunt. It was fantastic to see them on screen again. While several critics are mentioning the film being too violent, I disagree - this is the world we live in, and it is supposed to be one of the most realistically violent films we can watch without it actually being reality. It’s not the best script from Sheridan, but it’s still one of the best, especially when he hasn’t written a bad one yet.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Josh Brolin’s character Matt Graver and Benicio Del Toro’s character Alejandro are the dynamic duo we saw a little bit of in the first, but this relationship is truly more thoughtfully drawn out in this film. It’s a fascinating addition to the murder of Del Toro’s family in the first, while keeping it simple with just a simple kidnapping gone wrong to start a war between cartels. Each character is well drawn out in their own respective way, and even so for the ones that appeared to be a usual case of trouble, most notably the girl the protagonists are kidnapping. At first glance, especially during the first scene with the actress, I could have assumed an ensuing disaster for the film, with the movie inadvertently turning into a tailspin to the ground. Luckily this doesn’t happen, and the most lacking of which is the male sicario that is placed in just for story’s sake and doesn't receive as much of any kind of characterization as he may have needed for the role he is supposedly taking on in any kind of sequel. The absence of Emily Blunt doesn’t majorly affect the story. Surprisingly, it’s easy to forget that her character was such a major part of the previous film.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score for Day of the Soldado is primarily recycling the majority of what came from the original. It works really well and is just as brilliant as in the previous entry, giving the film even more tone in the direction of anxious tension. The score sticks with you, makes you stay attached to the action on screen, and gives you a more pure viewing experience. The sound effects are just as awe-provoking as anything else and really make a huge impact with every shot fired and every explosion detonated.
The effects in Day of the Soldado are absolutely stunning thanks to the great cinematography. The subtle and sometimes brutal blood effects are made even more impactful by just how shocking the events leading up to them are. One of the best directed scenes and truly one of the most shocking to have in any film is a terrorist attack near the film’s opening and it, along with the chaos that ensues after the first explosion, is truly horrifying. The costume design is wonderful and as mentioned multiple times prior, is a wonderful extension of the first. It’s visually realistic and that makes it a much more dramatically impactful film, which is all for the better.
As an enormous fan of the original, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a phenomenal follow up that I never knew I needed, as well as a solid solo effort for those who haven’t seen the first. The only shame is that instead of leaving with a clear conclusion, it decides to use a stereotypical sequel-bait and leave on a cliffhanger, which is certainly a downside. Even so, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a near perfect sequel that doesn’t 1-up its predecessor but instead expands upon its legacy in a really intriguing way. As the trailer clearly states, it is meant to be the next step in the Sicario saga but I’d be happy with just one more film: a great finale for a great trilogy. If you haven’t yet, seek out the first Sicario, go on a ride of a lifetime, and finish knowing that there is more to be told in Day of the Soldado.