For my review of the first film, click the following link: SICARIO (2015)
I guess The Collector and Thanos weren’t done fighting in Knowhere, so now they’ve gotta settle this via a war with the drug cartel. How many wars do these guys need to wage?!
The story looks like it’s about Alejando and Matt Graver initially going after a target together to start a war with “everyone,” but I’m guessing something goes wrong, Alejandro goes rogue, and has to protect a girl from his enemies, which may or may not be Graver.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Benicio Del Toro (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR  and STAR WARS: LAST JEDI ), Josh Brolin (DEADPOOL 2 , ONLY THE BRAVE , HAIL, CAESAR! , EVEREST , and the upcoming AVENGERS: ENDGAME ), and Isabela Moner (NUT JOB 2 , MIDDLE SCHOOL , and upcoming films INSTANT FAMILY  and DORA THE EXPLORER ).
In support, we have Catherine Keener (INCREDIBLES II , GET OUT , and the upcoming THE CROODS 2 ), Elijah Rodriguez (THE BOOK OF LIFE , and the upcoming WE DIE YOUNG ), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (ORIENT EXPRESS , MAGNIFICENT SEVEN , and upcoming films WIDOWS  and PERFECTO DESCONOCIDOS ), Matthew Modine (47 METERS DOWN , and upcoming films SPEED KILLS  and AN ACTOR PREPARES ), and Shea Whigham (BEIRUT , KONG: SKULL ISLAND , KNIGHT OF CUPS , and upcoming films CITY OF LIES  and FIRST MAN ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Stefano Sollima, known for stuff I’ve never seen or heard of. Penning the screenplay is Taylor Sheridan, known for WIND RIVER (2017) and HELL OR HIGH WATER (2016). Composing the score is Hildur Guðnadóttir, known for JOURNEY’S END (2018). The cinematographer is Dariusz Wolski, known for ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (2017) and THE MARTIAN (2015). Finally, the editor is Matthew Newman, known for THE NEON DEMON (2016).
Overall, I may not have been the hugest fan of the first one, but I understand where the merits come from. And this movie does look really awesome, so I can safely say that I’m going to have a good time. Here’s hoping anyway.
This is my honest opinion of: SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO
The Mexican cartels have managed to stage two suicide bombings, one just at the Mexican border, the other in Kansas City, Kansas, killing dozens of innocent people, including children. Calling for a secret war against the cartels responsible, the ruthless and merciless Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is recruited, with a team of his choice, including the equally ruthless and merciless Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), to start a war between the cartels without making it look like the U.S. is involved. Their plan: kidnap the youngest daughter of a cartel leader, named Isabel Reyes (Isabela Moner) and make it look like a rival cartel did it.
This was damn good. Hell yeah, baby.
Once again, Brolin and Del Toro are aces and kill it in this movie. Brolin playing Graver is every bit the ruthless asshole as he’s ever been. Fuck, I never get tired of seeing him on screen. I know his character isn’t exactly anything new to cinema, the whole, “willing to do whatever it takes to win” type of character, but Brolin plays it so damn well that it’s hard not to enjoy the performance. Brolin knows how to bring the gravitas, gotta give him that. And Del Toro, for a dude who can look as goofy as The Collector, it’s easy to forget that he can seriously play a dude that you don’t want to fuck with. He’s brutal in his kills, and yet still has this strange sense of honor when it comes to protecting Isabel. What’s cool is that we also learn more about Alejandro’s backstory. Okay, to be fair, I’ve not revisited SICARIO since it was released in theaters, so for all I remember, Alejandro’s backstory was revealed, but all I remember was that he was seeking revenge for the murder of his family. I didn’t know that he was a lawyer before becoming a merciless mercenary.
Once again, the sound editing and mixing is top freakin’ notch. Combined with some awesome directing, you have about the best shootout action scenes that you’re ever going to see this year. Every gunshot sounds like it’s next to your ear. Every bullet flying into a Humvee’s windshield makes you want to shield your eyes from the shards of glass that will never touch you. Especially during the highway scene, that was one of the most stressful firefights I’ve seen all year long, especially since most of it follows Isabel, who is seriously getting shot at and I liked her character enough to not want to see bad things happen to her.
One of the things that I really admire about how this movie is structured and written is that it doesn’t really have an emotional center. Unlike most dick-flick movies like, oh let’s make an easy jab, the Transformers movies, their emotional center is too poorly developed for any audience member to truly enjoy. The characters are too bland, or don’t give enough for the actors to chew on to make for especially engaging performances. As a result, the emotions are virtually nonexistent. But this movie doesn’t really bother with it. The emotions are there to a degree, but they’re not the centerpiece. This movie knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more than that. This is a gritty, bloody thriller and it rolls with superbly. What emotions that are there may be brief, but feel like they’re organic to the narrative and never overshadow the grim tone, never overstays its welcome, and ultimately services the story for as long as necessary.
Quick thought, during that bombing of the grocery store, did anyone else think that woman helping out that kid was kind of a dumb-ass? I mean, she’s inching… toward the bomber, telling him that he “doesn’t have to do this.” Would… you do that? I mean, really? I feel like if she picked that girl up and hauled ass in the opposite direction, she would have survived. It’s not like those bombs has the widest radius of damage. Plus, he didn’t look like he was in any mindset to go chasing. At the very least, if it was enough to kill the woman, at least give the girl a chance by shielding her from the blast. I don’t know, that was the only dumb thing that I didn’t like. But it’s pretty early on in the movie and it’s easy to forget it when you’ve got the rest of this two hour movie to keep your attention occupied, so I’ll let that slide.
I also really love how Alejandro and Graver’s conflicting moment is handled. Graver’s given the order to kill Alejandro and Isabel and contacts him with the bad news. Alejandro tries to convince him to help him get the girl past the border, Graver refuses, and Alejandro has to go it alone.
First of all, I love how professional both men are. I feel like in a lesser movie, it would have been too easy for Alejandro to be all like, “How can you do this to me?! After all I’ve done for you!” or something to that extent, but they didn’t do that. While I could never say that these men are “friends” as the common man would describe, you do get a sense that these two respect each other. Graver knows he doesn’t want to carry out the order to kill Alejandro and Alejandro definitely doesn’t want to go toe-to-toe with Graver. With that said, Alejandro knows that Graver is a government man and has to follow his orders, but Graver knows that Alejandro isn’t going down without a fight, and that’s a fight that even Graver seems to know that he might not walk away from. It’s a seriously nuanced moment that I adored.
What’s even better is how the whole thing is resolved. Give this movie credit, it makes itself out like it’s going to end with Alejandro and Graver getting in a shootout with each other, but much to my surprise, they never do. In fact, that phone call is the last time they truly interact with each other. Alejandro gets executed by Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez), or so everyone thinks. Alejandro survives, having the bullet only going in one cheek and out the other, and Graver decides to save Isabel and hand her over to witness protection. Oh, and kudos to Moner who looks absolutely traumatized by the end of the movie. I really hope this girl wasn’t given a genuinely hard experience because that barely looked like acting.
More on the stellar writing for Del Toro, I really think they brought a kind of tenderness to his character. Okay, I don’t want to make it sound like this is an emotional film, but there is an added layer to Alejandro’s character. For one thing, his daughter was deaf. That’s a cool little factoid. But when he’s interacting with that family, Del Toro’s acting feels so real. Asking if the baby is deaf, just the way he looks at the wife and subtly explains his history without getting graphic or detailed, the incredibly nuanced vulnerability is fantastic to watch.
The only major problem that I have with the movie is the firefight on the highway between Graver and his men against the Mexican federal police that were escorting them. Why did the Mexican police fire on Graver and company? I think I missed why that happened and seemed to come out of nowhere. Were they working for Isabel’s father? I don’t think an explanation for this was ever offered. I mean, awesome scene, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed random.
Overall, I thought this was a damn awesome movie. Intense action, great acting, great sound editing and mixing, it’s a rockin’ good time and I may even say that it’s better than the first one. I have no idea if I’m in the minority or the majority on that opinion, but I definitely think that if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. So as a recommendation, I say go see it. It’s brutal, but it’s great. I may have to see it a second time, so keep an eye out for possible updates on this review, but yeah, this was definitely worth the time and money. There may not be rules this time, but there plenty of awesome to go around.
My honest rating for SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO: a strong 4/5
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