SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO Review: 8 out of 10 (Border Blood)
SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO is directed by Stefano Sollima and written by Taylor Sheridan. This is a sequel to the 2015 film SICARIO, the film features Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Jeffrey Donovan reprising their roles, with Isabela Moner, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Catherine Keener joining the cast. In this film, the US is being threatened by the possibility of Islamic terrorists who are entering the country through Mexico with help from the drug cartels who control the border. In an effort to stir the pot, the federal government calls in Matt Graver (Brolin) and his operative Gillick (del Toro). In a sort of “false flag” operation, the team conducts a kidnapping to force the drug cartels into a war with one another and to relieve the border tension.
The plan doesn’t exactly come together.
Taylor Sheridan writing is one that works in ambiguity. There are times where the audience is asked to sort of fill in gaps in the narrative as they watch. It requires close attention and actually works to build tension in the film. In the initial film Emily Blunt’s character worked as a sort of ethical voice to the film—and represented the audience as we witnessed the brutality of the border crimes through her eyes. Here in SOLDADO, there is no voice of reason. No conscience. And that actually seems to work as the film attempts to turn a corner in how it approaches the issues of crime, cartels, and a conscience. Brolin and del Toro are excellent here as two allies who approach the mission with different motives. Del Toro’s Gillick is (still) a haunted man who will stop at nothing to seek revenge on the cartels that killed his family. Well, almost nothing anyhow, as the movie goes on to explore. There is a fairly interesting subplot involving a young teen as a would-be border “coyote” who works with the cartels to smuggle people across the border. His arc runs parallel to the story of the agents and has its own payoff. SOLDADO has plenty of action sequences too, though they don’t really match up with those from the original film. Still, the action is close and chaotic and continues to emphasize the brutality associated with border crime.
SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO isn’t as strong as its predecessor, but it is still a solid outing in its own right. With a compelling performance by Benicio del Toro and an involving script from Sheridan, fans of the original film will find enough here to enjoy while recognizing it is the weaker film. With Sheridan’s talk of this series being a trilogy, I continue to be interested in the story of Gillick. Here’s hoping the series gets that final chapter.