How will this sequel survive without Denis Villeneuve, Johan Johansson, Roger Deakins, or Emily Blunt? The answer will not surprise you.
Synopsis: In Sicario: Day of the Soldado, the series begins a new chapter. In the drug war, there are no rules – and as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border, federal agent Matt Graver calls on the mysterious Alejandro, whose family was murdered by a cartel kingpin, to escalate the war in nefarious ways. Alejandro kidnaps the kingpin’s daughter to inflame the conflict – but when the girl is seen as collateral damage, her fate will come between the two men as they question everything they are fighting for. (Sony Pictures)
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Isabela Moner
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Director: Stefano Sollima
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 122mins
As mentioned, most of the people behind the original Sicario were not a part of this sequel excerpt for stars Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin as well as screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. These absences become evident rather quickly as this film comes nowhere near what the original in terms of intensity, something that film excelled at. The story falls considerably short as well and is just mess that devolves into a derivative black-ops type film that is both pointless and goes nowhere for long periods of time which combined make it on the dull side.
The story felt shoehorned into the drug cartel war subplot from the beginning and was never dealt with the depth that one would expect, considering all of the film’s promotion. Once the drug cartels become targets for the United States government, it is up to our Sicario Alejandro (Del Toro) to help stir things up on behalf of federal agent Matt Graver (Brolin). The film started promising enough until it started to fall apart early on with the introduction of useless subplots that were connected in a very contrived way that were more of a distraction than anything else with one standing out above the rest. The writing as a whole was contrived with several questionable moments leading to a complete collapse by the end.
The character of Alejandro was the best part of the original so those hoping to see more of an Alejandro-centered story (myself included) will be disappointed. The bulk of the film focused on Alejandro’s relationship with a drug kingpin’s daughter who he kidnaps named Isabel (Moner). Their relationship felt forced as they lacked any chemistry whatsoever and the story failed to develop Alejandro’s motivations as a whole. The main reason that Graver leveraged him against the cartel was because of past history that the film failed to explore. Alejandro continues to be the most interesting part of this franchise and it continues to be frustrating that it doesn’t want to give him enough of a chance. Meanwhile, Graver was just there.
What was noteworthy about the original was its intensity, however, dull characters along with pacing issues and a predictable and contrived story made this almost impossible as it lacked any emotional stakes whatsoever. Not even okay direction, a few decently shot action sequences and beautiful cinematography made much of a difference with this. The score was one of the best parts of the original but the overly loud score here (from a different composer due to the passing of Johan Johansson) distracted from the action more than aided it.
Del Toro as Alejandro continues to be the best part of the series and was the best part of this film. Though the rest of the film around him may be lacking but he is still compelling to watch as the brooding tough guy. His great performance allowed him to overcome the lazy writing of his character. It’s just a shame that he wasn’t given more of a chance. Brolin as Graver was okay despite doing next to nothing here because of even lazier writing that relegated him to a bystander for the most part. Moner was okay as well as Isabel despite having no chemistry with Del Toro.
Overall, this was a mediocre sequel that was both pointless and aimless while also suffering from lazy writing and the loss of everything that made the original what it was. Benicio Del Toro continues to shine but the film was nowhere near as intense or suspenseful as the original, wasting him and ultimately underwhelming.