COLUMBIA PICTURES (2018)

 

Director: Stefano Sollima

 

Starring: Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Catherine Keener

A sequel for sequel’s sake?

 

2015’s Sicario was an extremely good action drama boasting Denis Villeneuve as director, Roger Deakins on DoP duties, Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya and the majesty of a Jóhann Jóhannsson score. It found a balance between the action required and the human drama that was necessary to create a surprisingly good crime movie. Three years later, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is here to continue the story whilst dispensing of the majority of its predecessor's successful components.

When the US government discover that Mexican cartels might be smuggling terrorists across the border into the USA, they reach out to an old hand who is happy to get the job done whatever it takes – Matt Graver (Brolin). The grand plan is to kidnap Isabela Reyes (Moner), the daughter of an infamous drug cartel leader, in order to instigate a war between rival cartels by blaming another key cartel on the abduction. When Graver reaches out to black ops buddy Alejandro Gillick (del Toro), the plan gets underway but alliances become worn and tested the deeper the pair get into the plan.

 

I alluded to Day of the Soldado being a sequel just for the sake of it and, honestly, it really is. As a serviceable action movie, it’s just fine. However, following on from a far better predecessor that combined different elements and dived more into the human side of proceedings, Soldado feels a bit limp in comparison. Brolin and del Toro are once again wrecking machines and perfectly embody the tough, grizzled soldiers they portray, though this time around, the supporting cast is very much just that – characters that turn up to explain something or provide a slight story deviation. There’s no depth to them. Future Dora the Explorer Isabela Moner continues to move as far away as possible from Transformers: The Last Knight and she is fine here in a demanding role. Without Emily Blunt, the movie just feels hollow, there’s no relatability factor and the emotion and fear she portrayed are sorely lacking in Soldado. This works far better as a straight up action movie where boys blow up other boys and look bloody manly doing it – it’s that kind of movie. Alejandro, especially, is hyper-powered with his abilities and some of his actions and story moments are…contrived to be polite.

 

Roger Deakins brought his signature visual stylings to Sicario and Dariusz Wolski does a commendable job in paying homage in Soldado without fully replicating what made that first movie so good to look at. The dusty vistas and landscapes are captured in all their desolate beauty once again and the Western feeling shines through again. Another feeling that rears its head is tedium. Despite clocking in at a hair over two hours, the movie feels too long and drawn out, which is fine if it's engaging, but when it’s as big and slightly by-numbers as this is, it becomes less appealing the closer we get to the finale. A finale which had me rolling my eyes for than just a few times and I hope the powers that be put a lid on any other movies that they may be thinking of green lighting.

 

Soldado boasts some decent action and Brolin and del Toro are excellent together and in their roles, but everything really feels manufactured this time around. Not quite sub-par, not entirely uninspiring, Soldado is definitely just a sequel for sequel’s sake.

June 30th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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