Movie reviewBy Kaylee Brewster
“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a sequel that tries, but fails to repeat the perfection of its predecessor.
Drug cartels along the U.S.-Mexico border are smuggling in a new product: people. As long as they get paid, they don’t care who they take across the border, or what happens to them afterward, even if they happen to be terrorists with a plan to bomb.
Now the U.S. government, with the help of Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), wants to start an unofficial war with the cartels. To do that, Matt calls on Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) and sets him loose upon the cartels of Mexico.
“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a sequel to “Sicario,” released in 2015. Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan returned, while director Stefano Sollima replaced Denis Villeneuve. That change made all the difference in the world.
While the “Sicario” is a grim, grisly, tense, heart-pounding thriller with a poignant political message, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is hardly any of these things.
For starters, the story is a bit of a mess. It takes way too long to get to where it needs to be. Along the way, there are too many moving pieces audiences must fit together that raise more questions than they answer.
The plot is convoluted. Characters do things that don’t make sense, or at least are not clearly explained to the audience. It feels like the plot is trying to justify itself and its action rather than tell a story.
The plot builds and builds until the last 30 minutes, which are actually tense and engaging, but then things wrap up too quickly with too many loose, unexplained ends. While “Sicario” didn’t exactly tie everything up with a nice ribbon, it did tell a solid story with a satisfying ending that fit the tone of the film. Again, the sequel does not, instead of leaving with a gut-punch impact, the audience leaves with nothing.
The one thing that “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” has going for it is the acting. Both Broslin and del Toro convincingly play their roles, even if the story isn’t that compelling.
Brolin plays the hardened Matt who knows how to manipulate people. His nonchalant attitude about the things he’s done make him a character you’re not sure to like or hate.
Del Toro is much the same, but in a slightly different way. Alejandro can pull out a gun and kill without breaking a sweat, but then he has tender, kind-hearted moments that challenge what the audience thinks of his character.
It’s a shame these complicated and well-written characters aren’t given a story to match. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” doesn’t live up to the standard set by the first film. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking, dark, high-intensity, crime thriller I would suggest skipping the sequel and watching the original, or check out Sheridan’s other work such as “Wind River” or “Hell or High Water.”