Lightning Doesn’t Strike Twice With ‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ (Movie Review)

Sicario 2I have been anxiously waiting for the past three years to see a sequel to one of my favorite films from 2015, Sicario.  Truth be told, it’s also one of my favorite 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays too.  Looks phenomenal and that opening blast scene…wow!  So here we are it’s 2018 and the sequel they have been promising us has finally arrived…Sicario: Day of the Soldado.  I’ll skip over the parts of who has what distribution rights and where as to what it’s named, etc.  I’m just excited to be back in this gangster-ladden, drug war world of Sicario once again.  However, I must admit I had some mild reservations going in due to some meh critical reviews not to mention those comments from friends.  Needless to say I’m all in.  Now let’s see who’s telling the truth.

This time out in Sicario: Day of the Soldado we see Denis Villeneuve sitting this one out and Stefano Sollima taking over directorial duties.  Once again though we’re treated to a screenplay written by the very capable Taylor Sheridan.  Also sitting this one out is someone who made the first outing so memorable to me, Emily Blunt.  At least the other two big stars return to reprise their roles, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin.  Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Catherine Keener round out and join the rest of the cast here.  The plot follows the drug war we’re accustomed to from the first feature at the U.S.-Mexico border.  It has escalated to the point where the cartels have begun transporting terrorists, forcing the CIA to once again team up with ex-hitman Alejandro Gillick (del Toro).  And if you know anything about the first film, that last sentence alone should have you at hello.  So here we go!

In Sicario: Day of the Soldado we’re knee deep once agin in the middle of the drug lords and illegal immigration over our U.S. borders.  This tike though there are no rules of engagement since apparently the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border.  Like the first film this one starts out with a big bang, but so less shocking than what we witnessed in the first outing.  The U.S. powers to be mark the cartels as terrorists and enlist federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to start a rivalry war between them down in Mexico.  This makes the U.S. taking action on them much more acceptable to the American public.  He’s given no rules of engagement so thus he calls upon on the once lawyer turned hitman, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro).  He willingly accepts because this affects the family of a cartel Kingpin responsible for the murder of his family.  If you’ve seen the trailers, then you know this one is all about the kidnapping of the kingpin’s daughter (Moner).  However, nothing is ever easy and things between the two nations go terribly awry.  So when business becomes personal our two leading men question everything they are fighting for not to mention their loyalty to each other.  Life is full of tests and this just one of them.  And that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

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Now after viewing this one there are two things sadly missing, the thought-provoking, tense direction of Villeneuve and the humanity that Emily Blunt brought to her character.  What I mean by the first is Villeneuve painted a grim, suspenseful but very ponderous canvas with the first Sicario.  The tension in that one was almost Tarantino-like at times (minus the comedy part).  This one is sort of the same visual palette, but just feels mindless at times and empty without a character to latch onto like Emily’s in the first.  Sure we follow the life of a young boy throughout this one, but unless you’re in his shoes so to speak to begin with you’re not going to feel it as much as you did with Emily.  His life just wasn’t that interesting to me.  Even the sinister score from the first sounded worn by the film’s end here.  However, that’s not to say I didn’t like Sicario: Day of the Soldado because I did.  I just love the first one so much more (I would give the first a perfect score).  This one is just no Empire.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado works best for me when it sticks to it raw, brutal, primal formula…no holds barred violence and grittiness.  Now I’m well aware of the fact that makes me sound like a very bad person, but it’s the trademark of the first which we all want more of here.  We definitely don’t want any rainbows and puppies in our Sicario world, right?  Right!  We want unapologetic justice!  Rest assured you do get that in here and more, but again it just feels a bit mindless compared to what went down in the carefully planned first movie.  I do love the continuation of the world we’re in here and I’m completely overjoyed to spend two more hours with these two male leads I love.  The rest of the cast works very well and the action sequences are both satisfying and thrilling.  Thankfully the theatrical trailers didn’t spoil things as much as I thought they did so I can honestly say I was able to be surprised a few times.  With that being said I also do heart the direction this one takes at the film’s end and if there is a God, he’ll let them make a third entry as I’m very anxious to see where we go from here.  I mean we all want to be a Sicario, right?  Please don’t answer that (it’s rhetorical).  Enjoy!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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