RSS Feed
Also Featuring the Reviews of


 TheFilmFile
 TheBluFile
 TheFrightFile
 This Year
 Archives
 Articles
 Book
 About
 Dedication
 Mailing List
 Contact

Reviews by Title
ABCD
EFGH
IJKL
MNOP
QRST
UVWX
 YZ 

Reviews by Year
2018
20172016
20152014
20132012
20112010
20092008
20072006
20052004
20032002
20012000
19991998
1997 & previous

Reviews by Rating
4 Star Reviews
3.5 Star Reviews
3 Star Reviews
2.5 Star Reviews
2 Star Reviews
1.5 Star Reviews
1 Star Reviews
0.5 Star Reviews
Zero Star Reviews
A
Haunted Sideshow
Production

©1998–2018
Dustin Putman





Sicario: Day of the Soldado  (2018)
2 Stars
Directed by Stefano Sollima.
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Elijah Rodriguez, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Catherine Keener, Matthew Modine, Shea Whigham, David Castañeda, Howard Ferguson Jr, Jacqueline Torres, Raoul Max Trujillo, Bruno Bichir, Jake Picking.
2018 – 122 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for strong violence, blood images, and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for TheFilmFile.com, June 28, 2018.
"Sicario: Day of the Soldado" shares the grim, grimy, forbidding spirit of 2015's "Sicario," but has neither its penetrating human element nor its narrative seamlessness. An unnecessary sequel that far less eloquently covers the same bases as its tremendously effective predecessor, the film runs in circles before reaching a note of plodding inevitability. The longer it plays out, the more obvious it becomes that director Stefano Sollima (replacing the first picture's irreplaceable Denis Villeneuve) and returning screenwriter Taylor Sheridan have nothing new to say. Their central point—that the ruthlessly violent Mexico-U.S. drug trade runs so deeply as to prove damn near unwinnable—feels more sensationalistic than pressing the second time around.

A deadly Kansas City suicide bombing presumably perpetrated by terrorists trafficked in from Mexico elicits a sharp response from U.S. Secretary of Defense James Riley (Matthew Modine). With by-the-book protocol clearly no longer working, Riley enlists border agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) for a dirtier brand of retribution. The plan: to escalate the war within Mexico by abducting Isabel (Isabela Moner), the rebellious teenage daughter of drug kingpin Carlos Reyes, and falsely implicate an adversarial cartel for the crime. To help with the operation, Graver calls on embittered attorney Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), whose own family was murdered by one of Reyes' cronies. This is a particularly personal job for Alejandro, but it's one that will not go quite as anyone intends.

Credit "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" for capturing the portentous mood of the outstanding "Sicario" without having most of its main creative forces: in addition to the absence of director Villeneuve, also gone are cinematographer Roger Deakins, late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and star Emily Blunt, whose FBI field agent Kate Macer gave the first film a crucial outsider's perspective of the harrowing events taking place. Just because this second installment is a recognizable companion piece, however, doesn't mean it's a successful one. New behind-the-scenes blood—Dariusz Wolski's (2017's "Alien: Covenant") rich, twilight-enthused lensing and Hildur Guðnadóttir's droning, bass-heavy music score—unmistakably model their work after their esteemed forerunners without bringing anything fresh to the table.

More irksome is Sheridan's initially involving but increasingly contrived screenplay, his connecting of story threads—including the exploits of 14-year-old U.S. citizen Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez), experiencing his first day on the job as he helps traffickers transport Mexican citizens across the border, all while edging closer to a Mexican cartel—awash in the kind of leaps in logic and strained coincidences that a novice writer might make. Without the moral compass that was Blunt's Kate, there is also no one with which to closely identify; the woefully underdeveloped Isabel is a poor substitute.

"Sicario" is a singularly powerful depiction of the savage trickle-down effect the drug trade has on society. "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" adds human trafficking to the equation, but brings few new insights to its bleak subject matter. Josh Brolin (2018's "Avengers: Infinity War") and Benicio Del Toro (2017's "Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi") reprise their roles as loose cannons Matt and Alejandro; both actors are compelling screen presences, but they are used here merely as excuses to link the film with its precursor rather than pivotal participants with forward momentum and detectable arcs. Catherine Keener (2017's "Get Out") is a welcome new face to the series as CIA boss Cynthia Foards, providing a dissenting view to Matt's subordinate methods, but she is underused before abruptly exiting the proceedings. For all of its sobering brutality, "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" doesn't actually seem to go anywhere of note during its two-hour running time. A climactic image of a blindfolded character flopping around on the ground, his arms tied behind his back, proves to be an unintentionally succinct metaphor for the project as a whole. Technically, this is a well-made film. The problem is it didn't need to be made at all.
© 2018 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

The House with a Clock in Its Walls
A Star Is Born
A Simple Favor
The Nun
Ghost Stories (2018)
Tag
Searching
The Happytime Murders
First Reformed
Strait-Jacket (1964)
The Unborn (1991)
Christopher Robin
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Pyewacket (2018)
In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
Unfriended: Dark Web
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
[Blu-ray] Gravity Falls: The Complete Series (2012-2016)
Skyscraper
Eighth Grade
[Blu-ray] Traffik (2018)
The First Purge
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Acrimony
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
[Blu-ray] The Curse of the Cat People (1944)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Incredibles 2
Hereditary
More »