+ Recommended – R, Thriller, Action
While Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow) may be MIA, the sequel to the 2015 sleeper hit, Sicario, offers more screen time for Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice). If that doesn’t sell you on the film alone then we need to have a talk. In all seriousness, Day of the Soldado delivers the tension and stakes of the original but lacks the same perspective.
Brinkmanship is on the rise at the U.S.-Mexican border. Smugglers are bringing criminals across and terrorism is on the rise in the states. Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) must regroup with hitman, Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) to bring the war back to Mexico. The mission goes awry and Alejandro must protect a cartel leader’s daughter, Isabel Reyes (Isabela Moner).
If you were someone that was concerned when you heard a sequel was in the works that’s understandable. A common thread connecting the two movies is, undoubtedly, the music department; Hildur Guðnadóttir (Arrival, Sicario) returns to compose the score. The atmosphere that the soundtrack constructs lends a helping hand to building the tension, much like the first. And in that sense, it passes as a sequel.
There are traces of the original throughout, but it doesn’t always feel the same. Denis Villeneuve and Rodger Deakins are missing, along with the previously mentioned Emily Blunt; the trio that helped to define the initial conception of Sicario. Blunt encapsulated the audience’s perspective when the franchise began. We (the audience) weren’t the only ones that were spectators and that forced a connection between the viewer and the character. So when the sequel arrived and Blunt took an exit, it left viewers to spectate for themselves; which caused a disconnect for some, even before the movie had it’s wide release.
Brolin and Del Toro return and are just as powerful as before. Their chemistry carries the entire film and it wouldn’t work without either of them; at least not in this continued franchise. I’ve seen a lot of discussion from critics that argue Day of the Soldado works better as a stand-alone, and personally, I feel as if the movie wouldn’t be as strong without the connection to the first. These two characters have history and that carries weight and added baggage when the credits roll. Jeffrey Donovan delivers the comedic edge that Brolin brought in the first film and Isabella Moner’s character is easy to sympathize with, filling the gap left by Blunt.
When Taylor Sheridan (Wind River, Hell or High Water) wrote Sicario, a trilogy was planned. As evident from the final moments in this film, it’s likely that we will get a third movie. However, the conclusion we received felt a little contrived and arguably forced. From a critic standpoint it’s interesting to see the franchise mold into completely different territory, considering where Sicario started. However, for some viewers it could lead to a severe disconnect and end up costing the filmmakers a buck or two. Check out Sicario: Day of the Soldado this weekend at your local cinema.