by Monica Hayes
2018 is the year of sequels and prequels. Is Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado just as good, if not better than the original dark crime drama or will it fall flat on its face?
Sicario: Day of the Soldado starts out with so much going on at the same time that if you don’t pay attention you will be lost for the rest of the movie. First, there is a lone person who blows himself up while trying to cross the Mexican US border. Second, three suicide bombers kill people in a Kansas grocery store. Third, a young Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez) is being recruited to ferry immigrants across the border and finally, a covert mission into Somalia to question a known hijacker about recent suspected terrorist activity on the US/Mexican border. All of these scenarios tie into each other and the one person who can make sense of all this chaos is Matt Graver (Josh Brolin).
Graver is called to Washington, DC to meet with the Secretary of Defense (Matthew Modine) and a bunch of other suits to discuss the ever-growing “terrorist” problem and how to combat the situation. They tell him they want to start a war between the two main Mexican cartels without them knowing the US orchestrated the whole scenario and ask the best way to achieve their goal. Graver’s answer: Kidnap Boss Reyes’ youngest child, blame it on the other cartel and watch the sparks fly. They give Graver the go-ahead and tell him he has to handle everything on his own with no help from the US govt. Obviously, they really don’t know who he is or what he is capable of. Graver calls in a couple of favors and then sets out to get his boy, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). The plan is simple and has two phases: Kidnap Isabella (Isabella Moner), then drop her off into rival territory and watch what happens. The first phase is executed without a hitch, but the second phase does not go so well when the Mexican police try to ambush the team. That’s things get tricky and when Alejandro and Graver are at their best. There are many more twists and turns to the story, but that would give away spoilers.
The original Sicario was a dark gritty crime drama that took us down the rabbit hole into the Mexican cartels through the eyes of a young inexperienced DEA agent. Day of the Soldado continues with that concept but steps it up a bit more. Writer Taylor Sheridan drops us further down that rabbit hole into the cartel organization of not just transporting drugs across the US border, but into the expansion of transporting terrorist across the US/Mexico border. The way he tells each story then ties them together at the end is superb.
Brolin and Del Toro are masters at their craft. Both actors bring that cool calm intensity that makes you love and fear them at the same time. Honestly, if Brolin and Del Toro are in a movie, I’m there. No questions asked. It is just something about the way they approach each character they play that exudes excellence.
The action, body, and blood count have been stepped up in this one, so if you couldn’t handle the massive blood splatter in the first one, I don’t know what to tell you. This brings me back to my question of does Day of the Soldado fall flat on its face? The answer is no. It holds its own and from the looks of it, stay tuned for a third installment in the future.