So I am a little late to the fiesta with my Sicario 2: Soldado review. But it’s still in theaters and might hit the spot depending on your expectations.
Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario was a masterpiece. Pretty much everything Denis touches turns to cinematic gold. Sicario had a sense of dread and unease that could have been right at home in a horror movie well deserving of its 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Sicario 2: Soldado has a lot of the same actors and elements of the original, but does it equal or better it?
Sicario 2: Soldado has a similar premise to the original except this time there are a few more topical story points thrown in.
Illegal immigration, Muslim terrorists, cartel violence are all things that are dominating the news cycle at the moment and this movie could have made some very strong statements with this subject matter.
We have Benicio Del Toro returning as Alejandro the lawyer turned CIA assassin who was such a simmering threat in the first movie. Alejandro is still on his mission of vengeance for his murdered family against the cartels.
Josh Brolin upgrades from his flip-flops and sandals to Crocs in this film as the seedy CIA operator Matt Graver who will literally blow up your family’s house to get what he wants.
The standout performance for me was Isabela Moner the kidnapped Cartel boss’s daughter Isabela. Her performance was so on point although I kept thinking she might have been the girl from Logan (for reasons that become clear later in the movie).
Interwoven with politics, dirty tactics and violence these characters get thrown together and have to make some tough choices in the face of their orders and morality (or lack thereof).
There was also some trailer bait and switch with “We are letting you off the leash.” “We might need you to get dirty.” Sicario 2: Soldado leads you to believe that there will be some government sanctioned deniable chaos exploding on the streets of Mexico. Instead we get an assassination and a kidnapping then it turns into a different film.
I’m not sure why they felt the need to make a Sicario cinematic universe but it’s what we’ve got now.
First of all this a follow up to a movie that happily could have not had a sequel. Ironically enough Denis Villeneuve did the reverse of this with Blade Runner 2049, making a sequel to a masterpiece and pulling it off.
Sadly Sicario 2: Soldado doesn’t pull it off and just ends up sitting on the border fence and not in the way the first film had no easy answers on morality.
Visually the original Sicario would take wide atmospheric shots of helicopters over landscapes or spec-ops in thermal vision and hold those shots longer than was comfortable. The camera lingering on peoples faces when the shit goes down giving you a glimpse into their heads.
Sicario 2, has some of these omnipresent moments and then cuts at the worst times, not even in an intentionally jarring way, it feels like a very superficial copy of the original without understanding what made it work so well.
They used a lot of the Santa Muerte (patron saint of drug dealers) iconography in the poster art it could have been interesting for them to really lean into some of those parallels between extremist religions being weaponized and the cartels using this superstition as a source of faith and control but it never goes that deep.
Some of the writing and editing turns Sicario 2 into a bit of a mess, there were points where I wasn’t sure where the characters were geographically and why characters were making decisions that felt like they were edited out of sequence.
It also loses focus midway through and then wraps up all of a sudden at the end while sequel baiting us for a 3rd movie.
The Great Stuff
If you are just here for an action movie are some great action set-pieces. There is always a bit of a vicarious thrill when you see Anti-hero characters having to take the gloves off.
There are enough spec-opsy bits with HALO parachute drops, night vision infiltrations and covert actions to keep the Tom Clancy crowd happy.
For the most part the gunplay and tactical shootouts deliver and have real tension to them although there is an extra layer of plot armor on the main characters.
Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin are fantastic together as usual, their chemistry when they are on screen together is like a Jaguar and a Crocodile grudgingly sharing a kill.
Also Isabela Moner is an actor that is going places. In some ways her performance was the most pleasant surprise of this film and I can see a lot of potential in her career with the right roles going forward.
Sicario 2: Soldado stands on its own feet as a film but feels like a pale imitation of the original.
You’ll enjoy it if you like:
The characters from the original.
Stylish action thrillers.
Tom Clancy type movies.
Skip it if you:
Don’t want to sully your memories of the original.
Aren’t a fan of violence, torture.
Are looking for light entertainment (go see Ant-Man and the Wasp)
In Cinemas now