Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Director: Stefano Sollima
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Shea Whigham, Elijah Rodriguez, and Matthew Modine
In the first 15 minutes of “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” more than one disturbing act of violence, pulled from the world headlines, is on full display. Backed by an ominous, pulsating score the tone for director Stefano Sollima’s film is clearly and emphatically established. It doesn't take long for the film to delve deeper in the political darkness it so carefully, and carelessly, utilizes to establish the politically driven secret wars taking place in the Middle East and across the border in Mexico.
“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is an unusual sequel to director Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 film “Sicario”, substituting for the interesting style and broad scope that the original film so deftly weaved into a subverted revenge film is a sequel that depends more on expanding established characters into a world that operates with clear genre tendencies. This is an action film with tough guys operating in tough situations with no clear direction, caught in the crossfire are the innocent, and the innocence, of people trying to survive their own difficult circumstances.
Matt Weaver (Josh Brolin) is still the shadowy government figure who comes into to do the dirty work the higher political figures are too squeamish to do for themselves. By his side for the more grisly jobs is Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), the hitman who is hunting down everyone involved in the death of his family. Matt is tasked by the secretary of defense (Matthew Modine) to clean up the cartel issues across the border in Mexico; the plan is to start a war between two drug cartels.
Amidst the startling violence and political confusions is a film that operates without much clear direction except to display how complicated and murky the maze associated with the terrible happenings in the world can be. Human trafficking, terrorism, and bad guy power coups are just a few of the narrative weapons unabashedly and sometimes irresponsibly unleashed throughout the film. When the film tries to transpose the current political atmosphere into the film it never commits to providing any kind of insight into the reality of political decision-making. Instead it safely watches like the helicopters that hunt for border crossers in the film.
At the middle of everything is an interesting relationship between two lone soldiers fighting for their own strained beliefs of how order should be brought into the world. Both are figures with unknown backgrounds, with stories that have shaped and molded them into the seemingly heartless decision makers that reorganize how complicated situations will be solved. The truth is that resolution is far from the primary concern; instead it’s the necessary maintenance to keep everything from spiraling out of control.
We’ve seen these archetypes before, the lone gunman traveling from town to town in the western film or the worn out hit man doing one last job in the crime film; Matt and Alejandro are the updated contemporaries to these cinematic figures. It’s the relationships that these two characters have with the world that is ultimately the most fascinating aspect about “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”. When two young people, the kidnapped daughter (Isabela Moner) of a drug cartel leader and a young teenager (Elijah Rodriguez) growing into a role with the cartel, intrude in the grown up affairs, Matt and Alejandro become less fascinating because the mystery behind their creation becomes more clear. Still, in some of the quieter moments, like when Alejandro is left to protect the young girl after a failed operation, the film establishes a familiar yet interesting dynamic between the choices made in the present and how they will ultimately affect the future.
“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” trudges through some murky waters, trying to connect the narrative arcs into the current political climate doesn’t work in the scheme of the film. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro swagger in and out of action scenes nicely and when their characters are offered glimpses to contemplate the gravity of their violent tendencies the film speaks to the nature of the real victims in the war on terror and the shockwaves that will change lives and attitudes in both negative and positive ways in the future.
3.00 out of 5.00