Sicario: Day Of The Soldado is a defiant sequel that takes a swipe at the ruthlessless of counter-terrorist operations and the destruction of innocent lives caught in collateral damage. While Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro feature again in this largely masculine world, it is the female fringe characters whose presence are the most striking and powerful. While Emily Blunt’s character (first Sicario) brought to light the crises of upholding moral ideals in a murky and violent world, Anastasia (in this film) highlights the destruction of innocence. I have to say I felt the first Sicario was better. There was something raw about the plot and its characters; Its execution was stylish and intense. Sicario: Day Of The Soldado is still shot well and features many intense moments but feels somewhat contrived. For such a timely film about the realities of migrant crises, exploitation of borders and the vicious circle of terrorism and paranoia, Sicario’s contrived execution throughout the latter half of the film does not fulfil its lofty ambitions.
Still, Sicario: Day Of The Soldado is still a pretty exhilirating film. Even if it doesn’t perhaps live up to its own expectations, I still appreciated the fact that it dedicated some time to its minor characters who provided the more compelling narratives. Isabella, daughter of a cartel boss, is at the heart of this film. Her scenes mostly stole the show. Initially an innocent and spritely teenager, her innocence is robbed and her spirit worn away by the depravity that she witnesses. Her world is torn asunder by organizations bigger than life itself and by realities far more violent than her fights in school. The first Sicario managed to tell a story of turmoil from the inside out; Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro’s narratives encapsulated both internal trauma and a collective sense of futility and nilhilism about the world they inhabit. Sicario: Day Of The Soldado may not have been as effective in projecting the same kind of duality. Yet, at the very least, it still tells a powerful story about its individual characters; This is a story about the brutal loss of innocence.
While I greatly enjoyed the two young actors, their performances and their characters the most (Isabella as the daughter of a cartel boss and Miguel as a newly recruited member of a cartel that trafficks migrants from Mexico to the US), I loved every bit of guilty pleasure in seeing Benicio Del Toro kick it again in this film. He’s even colder than before; Rugged, roughed up and seen some real shi*. And this movie proves just that. To borrow Pulp Fiction jargon, he’s a ‘bad motherf*****’. Ironically, when Del Toro isn’t being a badass, the film takes a twist and puts him in a position where he’s able to show his humanism and warmth. Beneath this battle-worned exterior, I like how the movie manages to bring out genuine and surprising moments of kindness and compassion that prevails even in the harshest of worlds.
Alas, Sicario: Day Of The Soldado is no different from most sequels; They are usually not better than the first film. Despite this, Stefano Sollima’s Sicario is still visually and auditorily striking. It shines, once again, in portraying the chaos and destruction in individual characters. And it still manages to shock with some very well-shot sequences. But it couldn’t really take it to the next level. With loads of storylines to juggle, one wonders if a more streamlined and concise story would have allowed the film to better internalize its themes.