When writer Taylor Sheridan announced, off the heels of Sicario’s success, that he had a trilogy planned, it was greeted with a perplexed reception. The first film stood on its own merits and neatly tied itself together when it ended. It didn’t foreshadow or even tease a continuation of the story, leaving many to wonder how could the film turn itself into a trilogy. Sicario: Day of the Soldado does is right. It does it so well that it is difficult to quantify it as a sequel. Yes, there are recurring characters. Three to be exact. Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Jeffery Donovan all reprise their roles as shadow agents whose sole purpose is to operate on a frequency that is undetectable even by the US government.
The film doesn’t carry much over if anything from the original film. It’s a new mission with a new objective. Sheridan pens a script that encompasses more of what was seen in the original film; yet this time we are given more of an unveiling of the darker side of America’s foreign policy embodied by Matthew Modine as the Secretary of Defense who sets the events of the film in motion. The film starts with an ISIS attack within the United States that was aided by the drug cartels in Mexico. Modine breaks the glass jar and that is when Del Toro, Brolin, and Donovan enter the picture.
Stefano Sollima and Dariusz Wolski take the reins over from Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins as director and cinematographer and they do a remarkable job considering what a visual feat the first film was. Soldado does take on a different aesthetic but keeps it within the wheelhouse that was originally constructed. Brolin and Del Toro do not skip a beat, and their character’s take on an organic and natural trajectory in the new film.
What Soldado does differently is that it adds a morality to the film. Unlike the internal struggle of Emily Blunt’s character in the first film, here we get empathy and compassion from Del Toro, something that doesn’t seem plausible after the events of the original film, but in Soldado, he is birthed a new sense of empathy and compassion. Same goes for Brolin. While from the outside his character upgrades from flip-flops to Crocs, we also dig a bit deeper into his own moral compass. Both of these transitions are done through the physicality of both Brolin and Del Toro. There isn’t any drawn-out preachy dialogue that Sheridan penned in Hell or High Water; here both convey their inner struggle through their body language and demeanour. Yet, the film certainly snaps back within its final moments to ensure that the audience is very much aware that they are seeing a Sicario film.
Thanks to Cineworld Stoke for letting me review this flick!