Sicario: Day of the Soldado is is a far more action-packed movie than the original and it just moves better too. Personally it’s one of my favourites this year and if you like your action movies a little more sophisticated than usual then definitely seek it out.
Plot: FBI agent Matt Graver calls on mysterious operative Alejandro Gillick when Mexican drug cartels start to smuggle terrorists across the U.S. border. The war escalates even further when Alejandro kidnaps a top kingpin’s daughter to deliberately increase the tensions. When the young girl is seen as collateral damage, the two men will determine her fate as they question everything that they are fighting for.
Review: Interesting story: About 7 years ago I wrote a script about the Mexican drug cartels called Sicario; it was an intense and violent affair (obviously) inspired by a true story but then the first Sicario movie came out and it was too similar for me to bother continuing.
Anyway, I always thought the first movie was a little overrated and found it quite dull; I thought Emily Blunt was totally unsympathetic and annoying but I also didn’t buy her as a cop at all. It did have beautiful cinematography and the acting was superb as was the haunting music score from the late great Jóhann Jóhannsson but when a sequel was announced I was a little surprised as the first really was more of an art house action movie that worked as a stand alone feature.
Thankfully this sequel is superior in nearly every way with far more action and some brutal violence giving the movie a thrilling intensity. The best thing about the first Sicario was Benicio Del Toro who is the main focus of this story as well as Josh Brolin who appears to be in every movie this year. They are two of the best actors in Hollywood and watching them on screen together is mesmerizing.
Day of the Soldado has some spectacular set-pieces with an ambush in the desert one of my favourite action scenes of the year but it also gives Alejandro (Del Toro) more characterization so we get to know him a little better. At first I thought it was going to be a predictable “hitman with a heart” story and in some ways it is but it didn’t go in the direction I expected in the end. Taylor Sheridan returns as the screenwriter and once again proves he’s one of the best in the business today.
Although this is a different beast from the first movie it still feels like it takes place in the same world and it helps that so many cast members return especially Jeffrey Donovan who I became a big fan of with Burn Notice. It’s great to see him still getting work in these kinds of quality movies and also the awesome Shot Caller from last year.
The dialogue is sophisticated and realistic so it never feels forced or contrived; the fact that the cast are all at the top of their game also helps. This is a far better paced film than its predecessor with a sense of threat always in the air keeping you on edge throughout.
It’s not a mindless action movie though (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and has something to say about immigration and how the US handles it which is very much a hot topic; it never feels like the filmmakers are taking sides though but just giving you a glimpse into the nightmare it is for everyone involved.
Overall, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is one of the best films of the year and overshadows its predecessor in every way. It has plenty of intense action, a great script and a cast bringing their A game. Recommended.