Starring: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Isabela Moner
Director: Stefano Sollima
Running Time: 122 mins
Sicario: Day Of The Soldado is an American film and the sequel to Sicario. With the development of cross-border trafficking to the extent that cartels are now moving terrorists into the US, the American authorities increase the pressure on the criminals.
I have to say that, while it was definitely a good film, I was never a huge fan of the first Sicario movie. Despite striking direction from Denis Villeneuve and a fairly engaging story, it’s always stuck out in my mind as a rather drab thriller, particularly in comparison to the some of the stunning films the director has made otherwise (Prisoners, Arrival, Enemy, Blade Runner 2049 etc).
However, Sicario: Day Of The Soldado doesn’t even have Villeneuve on board as director, and I think that’s where the problems start. Although director Stefano Sollima does a fairly decent job at replicating some of the dramatic atmosphere crafted by Villeneuve, this sequel has nowhere near the same intensity and striking bleakness as the original, ultimately coming off as nothing more than a generic crime thriller with little real excitement.
The problem is that, with a story that’s fairly dull throughout, Day Of The Soldado lacks that artistic flair that Villeneuve brought to the original. The first film, while not stunning by any means in terms of the plot, featured a particularly striking sense of bleakness and fear, with the real threat of drug cartels brought to light in even more vivid fashion than any other film.
That came from Villeneuve’s trademark brand of heavy, almost devastating drama, coupled with cleverly dark and atmospheric cinematography and a pounding musical score. The sequel, on the other hand, while featuring a good score once again, doesn’t have that same style of truly heavy-going drama, as well as visuals that are perhaps a little too dark for its own good.
Although it impresses with good action sequences that arguably outshine the original, too much of this film is left in the dark without the real intensity to back it up, something that director Sollima unfortunately fails to get right throughout.
As a result, Day Of The Soldado, while it has its moments of action excitement, doesn’t have anything like the intensity or dramatic power of the first film, and as a result it struggles to make a story that’s not all that much more impressive than the original’s equally underwhelming one work well.
With that said, the film does have its moments of good tension, and in the build-up to those best moments (the action sequences), there’s a degree of excitement and intrigue as various sides look close to coming to blows. The longest of those build-up periods are what really makes the film work at times, even if it doesn’t last all the way through.
However, even the strong tension is problematic, because while there’s good suspense in the build-up to a number of occasions, the payoff is regularly underwhelming, with the story’s various twists coming off as either predictable or downright ridiculous, and not the grounded and impressively professional story that the first film told well.
Overall, I was rather disappointed by Sicario: Day Of The Soldado. While it has its moments, and occasionally replicates or even outshines Denis Villeneuve’s original, it’s a frustrating and generally underwhelming affair, above all lacking the dramatic intensity and weight of the first film, but also struggling with a poor story that only ever really proves exciting during the action sequences, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.6.