The first Sicario movie, in my opinion, was a film that didn’t really deserve to be great. It seemed like worn-out movie territory. The reason it was great is because of everyone involved.
It’s a bunch of amazing players that ended up making a great, impactful movie out of a somewhat stale idea.
So now we have Soldado, later changed to the baffling title “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”, and they’ve gotten rid of half of the aforementioned players.
Villeneuve was replaced with some dude I’ve never heard of before.
Emily Blunt and Daniel Kaluuya are gone, and they were replaced with nothing.
Emily Blunt is the key to what’s missing in Day of the Soldado; Brolin and Del Toro’s shady, immoral tactics were contrasted by the kind-hearted, by-the-book cop played by Blunt. That’s one of the big reasons why the movie worked so well: you are on this journey with Blunt as she witnesses everything she believes in turning upside down. It’s powerful and disturbing.
It’s also why the fantastic soundtrack worked so well with the story too, because it helped emphasize the feeling of unease that Blunt and the audience are feeling.
What we have now is just Brolin and Del Toro continuing to do what they were doing, except the trailer promises that it’s on a bigger scale with higher stakes. Okay, that sounds interesting enough…
…except after the movie is all said and done, I was surprised at how empty and stagnate the entire story was. Aside from a few situational changes to Del Toro as a character, nothing of substance really happens in the movie.
That said, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are both great in it, as was the child actor who played the little girl. All of the other ensemble actors did fine as well.
The dialogue in this movie is also very competent and well-written, for the most part at least. It’s good to see that this franchise was at least able to keep Taylor Sheridan.
The soundtrack attempts to recreate Sicario’s, but it doesn’t seem to understand why Sicario’s soundtrack was effective. Also, there was an annoying amount of stock “emotional” music.
But that’s it. Aside from that, the movie spends most of its time setting up really interesting premises and plot points, only to completely derail them and do almost nothing with them.
One could say that Day of Soldado was…. subversive?
The best I can come up with is that maybe Day of Soldado is a metaphor for just how awful the situation is at the U.S.-Mexican border. But that’s a bit of a stretch, in my opinion. And even if I was right, that doesn’t make the movie any less boring.
The cinematography and the lighting for this movie were also very good. But again, that’s not much of a bonus if it isn’t used to emphasize a great story.
As a minor note: what does “Day of Soldado” even mean?
Well, Soldado is the Spanish word for “soldier”, so the title is basically “day of the soldier”. It’s definitely a fine sounding name for a movie, but it has bugger all to do with the actual series of events. The idea of being a “soldier”, literally or metaphorical or whatever, isn’t really even emphasized in this movie. Nothing is really emphasized.
Sicario: Day of Soldado lacks direction and purpose. It’s got very competent (or at least competent enough) acting, music, cinematography, dialogue, etc. However, it does nothing extraordinary with them. If your movie-going experience values acting and cinematography above story, then that is really the only way I could recommend seeing this film. Otherwise, after only two days, I am already forgetting massive swaths of this movie.