"Brutal Sequel Doesn’t Live up to Original"
What You Need To Know:
The original SICARIO was primarily a character study where actress Emily Blunt assumed the role of the movie’s moral compass. However, DAY OF THE SOLDADO relies more on intense action sequences than thought-provoking debate. Questions of patriotism and immorality are worth exploring, but they’re buried so far into the violent action scenes of SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO, that they’re easy to miss. The foul language, murky morality and extreme violence in SOLDADO are excessive and unacceptable.
SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO is the sequel to a 2015 movie, with Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro reprising their roles as a CIA operative and a Columbian mercenary fighting the drug cartels by any means necessary. Questions of morality go unchecked without the presence of Emily Blunt, who served as the original movie’s moral compass in the complicated gray area of international drug politics. Without these complicated character dynamics, the new Sicario lacks the complexity and substance of its predecessor, ultimately leading to an excessively gory, violent and bleakly immoral look at foreign relations. Any viewer should use strong caution before subjecting themselves to the content of this sequel that doesn’t live up to its predecessor.
In an intense and suspenseful opening, the movie follows several Mexican immigrants as they illegally cross the border into America. As American police surround them, one of the illegal aliens opens up a backpack to reveal a bomb and quickly blows himself up, injuring many police officers in the process. Soon after, a particularly harrowing scene follows three suicide bombers as they blow up a Kansas City supermarket. When the American government discovers these bombers also crossed the Mexican border illegally, it includes the Mexican drug cartels on its list of terrorists, giving Matt Graves (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) free reign to bring the cartels down for good.
Believing the best way to bring them down is to start a war between the Mexican cartels, Graves and Alejandro hatch a plan to kidnap the 16-year-old daughter of a cartel kingpin. As they violate numerous international laws in the name of bringing down the bad guys, the lines between good and evil become blurred even for these two men who rarely play by the book. However, when the American government rescinds its support, it leaves Graves and Alejandro on opposite sides of the border, with a moral dilemma about what to do with the kidnapped girl.
The original SICARIO was mostly a character study. Emily Blunt played an FBI agent thrown into the world of CIA counter-cartel activity. As Graves and Alejandro carried out their “less than legal” plans, Blunt’s character, Kate, constantly questioned their choices. The original movie brilliantly wrestled with the idea of good people refusing to dirty their hands versus what becomes necessary to fight pure evil.
Sadly, Blunt does not reprise her role in the sequel, leaving not only the void of a great actress but no one to assume the role of moral compass. Instead, the sequel follows these adventures in what is mostly a gory and violent thrill ride devoid of conscience.
The movie’s first act is quite slow except for the intense suicide bomber scenes. By the time it gets going, it bombards the audience with action scene after action scene. The government mandate for Graves to “get his hands dirty” goes mostly unquestioned during the movie’s first half. From a story perspective, the movie begins after about an hour, when Alejandro is left alone in Mexico to care for the kidnapped girl. Regrettably, the character moments and moral questions surrounding the team’s decisions, only comprise about 20 to 30 minutes of a movie that seems more concerned with shocking the audience or giving them some violent and gory action scenes.
It’s slightly unclear what audiences are left with at the end of SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO. Benicio Del Toro’s character remains mostly unchanged considering the ordeal he goes through in the movie. He’s only motivated by revenge against one of the cartels for killing his family and uses the US Government to help him in these endeavors. Graves doesn’t care what Alejandro’s motives are as long as he helps him catch the bad guys. While Graves has a small character arc, he spends most of the movie convincing representatives of the American government to get their hands dirty and finish the job he started.
Drug cartels and immigration are not an easy topic to explore, especially in today’s political climate. However, the movie ultimately gives a pretty bleak view of how to stop these violent acts and glorifies those who try to end evil even if they become corrupt themselves.
Issues of patriotism and immorality are worth exploring. However, they are buried so far into SOLDADO’s violence and action sequences that they’re easy to miss. Ultimately, the foul language, murky morality and extreme violence in SOLDADO are excessive and unacceptable.