Sicario: Day of the Soldado
3.5/5   aka: Sicario 2: Soldado
dir Stefano Sollima
scr Taylor Sheridan
prd Basil Iwanyk, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Edward McDonnell, Molly Smith
with Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Elijah Rodriguez, Catherine Keener, Jeffrey Donovan, Matthew Modine, David Castaneda, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Bruno Bichir, Shea Whigham, Raoul Max Trujillo
release US/UK 29.Jun.18
18/US 2h02
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Getting dirty: Brolin, Donovan and Del Toro

moner keener modine
See also:
Sicario (2015)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Sicario: Day of the Soldado This sequel revisits some of the characters from the underrated 2015 thriller, replacing the previous film's more emotionally raw character study with ice-cool intensity. It's strikingly well-made by Italian director Stefano Sollima (Suburra), quietly gripping the audience with a series of situations that are almost agonisingly unpredictable. So even if screenwriter Taylor Sheridan cops out in the end, the film is thoroughly riveting.

As the Mexican cartels begin using their networks to smuggle terrorists into the US, government advisor Cynthia (Keener) brings in former FBI agent Matt (Brolin) to solve the problem, even if it means getting dirty. Matt's idea is to spark a war between the two biggest cartels, enlisting the shady operative Alejandro (Del Toro) to kidnap Isabel (Moner), a cartel boss' teen daughter. But from here, their plan doesn't run very smoothly. Meanwhile, rebellious Texas teen Miguel (Rodriguez) is mentored by Hector (Castaneda) to become a coyote himself, smuggling migrants across the Rio Grande.

Sollima controls every scene beautifully, expertly using long takes that capture both the large scale of the action and subtle touches provided by the cast. Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir channels the late Johan Johansson's churning score to add a sense of menace that expands as the events progress. And cinematographer Dariusz Wolski skilfully captures the expansive Mexican and Texan landscapes.

Del Toro and Brolin are both terrific, as expected, although neither character has much of a connection with the audience. Del Toro gets to play a couple of sharply moving moments, and his connection with the excellent Moner has several nice edges to it. Watching key events through her eyes adds a serious kick to the entire film. And Rodriguez's quietly nuanced turn as the steely but vulnerable Miguel makes us wish he had more screen time.

As things escalate, the plot splinters into three strands that provide a series of punchy set-pieces to highlight the bigger picture. Yet there's no real point of resonance: we are gripped as the situation develops, and we worry about some characters, but can never identify with anything that happens. So it's disappointing when all three of these plot threads end in ways that feel oddly contrived, undermining the much more tough-minded film this seemed to be. And instead of a proper personal odyssey or a knowing comment on government policy, the film ends up feeling merely like an unusually well-constructed action movie.

cert 15 themes, language, violence .6.Jul18

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