SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO

"Brutal Sequel Doesn’t Live up to Original"

NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

Summary:

In SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO, the American government discovers some people illegally crossing the US-Mexican border are ISIS terrorists, so they give CIA operative Matt Graver and Matt’s hired mercenary, Alejandro, unlimited power to fight the human smuggling and trafficking by Mexico’s drug cartels. The foul language, murky morality and extreme violence in SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO are excessive and unacceptable.

Review:

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.

Content:

(PaPaPa, BB, P, LLL, VVV, A, DD, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong, somewhat mixed pagan worldview of “anything goes” especially in the context of rationalizing immoral or violent acts, there is a moral implication of doing the right thing, movie asks whether or not the team has gone too far to fight evil, and movie has a strong presence of good vs. evil, plus there are some patriotic elements of protecting American interests;

Foul Language:
At least 40 obscenities (including 25 “f” words) and no profanities;

Violence:
Heavy and excessive violence throughout the movie with intense and prolonged moments of gore, two moments of suicide bombers including an intense scene with suicide bombers walking into a store with a woman and child pleading for their lives, several scenes of military action and violence including shooting the enemy on tactical missions, man interrogates a potential terrorist and destroys his family with an airstrike, man executes a cartel member with excessive gunshots, a scene of kidnapping involving car crashes and gunshot wounds, two teenage girls get into a fist fight, extended shootout scene involving a cartel attack on a military convoy including soldiers getting shot in the head with blood splatters, character throws grenade into another car, multiple scenes of kidnapping involving characters being forced at gunpoint and blindfolded and mouths duct taped, character is shot in the head at close range but survives;

Sex:
No sex;

Nudity:
No nudity;

Alcohol Use:
Mild alcohol use with characters having drinks over dinner and an underage teenager shares a beer with his older cousin.

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking but plot is about taking action against drug cartels; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Strong miscellaneous immorality includes kidnapping, crossing the border illegally, acts of terrorism, questionable morality of people in American government taking extreme action against terrorism and drug cartel activity and the lines of good vs. evil are blurred as American operatives act outside the law for “the greater good.”

In Brief:

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO is a violent sequel that doesn’t live up to its predecessor. The American government discovers some people illegally crossing the US-Mexican border are ISIS terrorists. So, they give CIA operative Matt Graver and his hired gun, Alejandro, unlimited power to fight the Mexican drug cartels. As they carry out a convoluted plan to kidnap the teenage daughter of a cartel leader and blame it on another cartel, even they begin to question the implications of their actions. When the American government rescinds its support, it drives a wedge between Matt and Alejandro about what to do with the kidnapped girl.

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.