Review: Sicario: Day of the Soldado
The ongoing trend of modern action movies is to focus more on the drama than the violent acts of blowing up baddies and swinging in on one-liners. This shift in focus has been somewhat of a blessing and a curse, producing ample films like Sicario: Day of the Soldado; which, for better or worse, manages to play on this new drama/action hybrid.
Set relatively closely to the events of the first movie (the cast lacking a strong Emily Blunt this time, however), the sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 original, Sicario, manages to expand on the characters of Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) and Matt Graver (Josh Brolin).
Considering the absence of Blunt and Villeneuve this time around, Sicario: Day of the Soldado seemed set to become another mediocre action flick that would be forgotten in a matter of months.
Luckily though, it’s as engrossing as the first movie, this time focussing focusing on the individual charms and interest of Gillick, the hitman we loved to feel puzzled about in the first movie. If anything it’s Brolin’s performance as Graver that suffers the most. At times it feels like he’s not given all that much to do, and maybe it’s because he felt more of a supporting character in the first movie, rather than main cast potential. Still, Brolin is a talented guy and works well with the pressures of holding a movie together with only one other major lead.
Director Stefano Sollima manages to impress also, with traits of the action genre blending nicely with some more dramatic and high stakes tension than the first movie managed to deliver. Full of unique twists and genuinely shocking revelations, there are times when Sicario: Day of the Soldado feels like it’s banking on shock value alone, rather than its script.
Aside from its few uniquely interesting moments, the movie does suffer from all the fatal tropes of the genre, such as some sickeningly plodding pacing at times, a forgettable first half hour and an unfulfilling ending. There are also some poor performances from supporting actors you’ll have never heard of. It’s nice to see Matthew Modine still getting work though.
Ultimately, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a firm action movie with its finger on the pulse of what makes the action genre so interesting and beloved by cinema fans. It’s a shame then that it doesn’t always fully capitalise on the advantage it has been presented with, breaking pace to expand characters enough so they’re recognised in the third instalment.
Perhaps its main success is in setting a completely different tone to the first movie, and that may be why it’s so solidly enjoyable.