Sicario 2: Soldado (aka Sicario: Day of the Soldado) is a gutsy, machismo driven sequel to Denis Villeneuve‘s 2015 sleeper hit actioner. This follow-up is a solid entry into the war on drugs sub-genre and while it packs a visceral punch, you can’t help but find it all a bit slight in the plot department. Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin again star as Alejandro Gillick and Matt Graver, a pair of tough guy hombres waging war on the Mexican drug cartels. The duo brings a lot of muscle to their roles, propping up the slight material with their gruff screen presence.
Taylor Sheridan once again scripts, with Italian helmer, Stefano Sollima replacing Villeneuve in the director’s chair (the Canadian was too busy making Blade Runner 2049). He keeps the action grounded and real, making every high calibre bullet count as del Toro and Brolin upset the cartels by kidnapping one of the ring leader’s daughters. However, complications ensue and del Toro’s Gillick is forced to go it alone across the border in Mexico. Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin make for a winning combination and it’s a shame that the film’s second half makes their characters go their separate ways. This should have been more of a buddy movie, a sweaty Tex-Mex Butch and Sundance for the 21st Century. This is the type of movie that used to fill screens across the world in the ’80s and ’90s, the rough, tough punchy cinema that guys like tony Scott made into wonderfully strong mainstream fare. Now the Sicario movies are basically arthouse releases.
Sicario 2‘s main flaw is its reliance on coincidence. The film’s last act hinges on it and if the film wasn’t so grounded then it would have seemed farcical. It brings two disparate plot points together in a way that doesn’t feel organic, a scriptwriter’s conceit and I couldn’t help feel a little cheated. More importantly, the film also reneges on a powerful emotional gut punch – and that’s something I just couldn’t let it get away with. This is made even more infuriating because screenwriter Taylor Sheridan has always pushed the envelope when it comes to his work. Maybe the pressure of making a sequel was just too much.
Far from bad, but not as good as expected Sicario 2: Soldado works as a punchy action flick with great performances, but it can’t rise to being anything more than that.