In the first sequence of “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”, we see Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) interrogating someone. He tries to investigate the cartel for allowing terrorist suicide bombers to enter the border. Matt is more brutal in this movie than the first one. In order to reach an answer, Matt threatened to bomb the defendant family home. Both in terms of interrogation, this wasn’t a bluff. But, what exactly is the terrorist? From any party, we always take how terrorist or what lies behind the biased perspective. Whether what their ideology and the motives are, we will always assume there is just one bad side to them. You know what I mean.
Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicario” is one of the thrilling movies in the decade. It reminds you of the Michael Mann vibe with “The Silence of the Lambs”. The thriller genre has so many things on it. It’s not just the thriller itself. It’s more than action or any blockbuster. But, most of them fail to reconstruct such the genre and don’t know what a true thriller genre was. “Sicario” doesn’t have much action or should I say scenes of terror and gunfire. It’s just thriller, intense, and how many times you frown and your heart pump because of the movie. And the movie works well in the thriller scope.
There is so much uniqueness from the first movie. The genre isn’t just intense but how you build-up to the final shootout. Stefano Sollima understood how he could avoid various cliches and tropes in mainstream thrillers. It’s more like entertainment. But, such entertainment could get you into one of the most fascinating experiences you would ever get. In “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”, almost every scene ends without an answer as well as the first movie. It’s not just about what this movie is about but what your feelings after watching the film. Even though it happens so quickly, it’s very efficient when you remember you don’t know what just happened.
In most of the anti-hero culture, they always illustrated them as one of the coolest characters. Take for instance Walter White from “Breaking Bad“. We always appreciated how much payoff he always took and why he existed in the first place. On the other hand, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) is a pure anti-hero. We don’t really know how his motives are, why he does bad things, and why he thinks that way. Regardless of which, we never know how his actions and motives. He is just hitman who works for the money. In this sequel, we kinds of understanding what the character looks like.
However, Villeneuve no longer directed this movie but Taylor Sheridan still has the same sharpness as in the original movie. On the other hand, we can no longer see Emily Blunt; regardless of how her situation ends in the first movie. In this movie, we see various opportunities for Del Toro to dig deeper into his character as Alejandro. In his efforts to stop cartels and help terrorists cross the border, Alejandro has a lot of business. He has to deal with the group who killed his daughter. In turn, we know much about him.
Alejandro has his own ideology but it’s also hard to see where he was. He got his own moral, his own compass, and his own decision. It’s just simple. Regardless of Villeneuve, Sollima tried hard to follow the flow from the original; not just distracted as well. The first movie, in essence, traces the dark side of the world. It’s about drugs, cartels, etc. but we get a lot of complexity about the lack of morality, decision, and change. In this movie, Matt and Alejandro provoke heat between the two cartels on the border. The film explores drug trafficking between cartels and smuggling immigrants to children as well. It’s a bit of political commentary about how the situation in the United States now yet quite relevant.
In the Sicario universe, there is no good guy. All the characters are their pawns. Their main pawns in the conflict between these cartels, namely young children including Isabela Moner. This film shows what can happen to children when they grow up in a world filled with terror and war. The children represent how many things they have to deal with people around. They also have to deal with oppression in their schools just because they are Mexican. The mastermind used them as victims as well as perpetrators. Also, the ending of the movie works very well.
I love this movie but the original is just far better than this movie. Yet, this is only its simplicity. The audience and critics, mostly, difficult to appreciate this movie. There is nothing wrong too if someone likes and someone hates it. “Day of the Soldado” is a bit of predictable but still it’s a great thriller entertainment spectacle. It’s brutal, quite deep, and dark as the first movie.
3.5 out of 5 stars.