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‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ film review: This unnecessary sequel is a serviceable action thriller

The sequel to ‘Sicario’ is anchored by solid performances by Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado continues the saga of Central Investigation Agency officer Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro). Helmed by Italian director Stefano Sollima (Gomorrah), the sequel to the drug trafficking drama Sicario (2015) abandons the dramatic elements of the original for a more action-oriented tone. Although it is a sequel to a film that didn’t need one (and suffers by comparison), Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a perfectly serviceable action thriller with bravura performances by Brolin and Del Toro.

A suicide bombing at a grocery store in Kansas sets the wheels in motion. Putting the blame squarely on the Mexican drug cartels, who are suspected of ferrying members of the Islamic State into the United States of America, the government calls in Gillick to “play it dirty”, as the secretary of state puts it. Gillick is only too happy to oblige, and lays the foundation to set up a war between the various cartels.

Solino and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski inventively stage routine action scenes. There’s a tense shootout shown from the point of view of a young child, and the opening suicide bombing is equally powerful. The gunplay feels real and messy, except in the scenes in which realism is abandoned for a cool action movie machismo. When this happens, the Sicario sequel lapses into a by-the-numbers action movie in which characters unload round after round in broad daylight, for no reason in particular and without drawing any attention.

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

Director Sollimo and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski inventively stage routine action scenes. There’s a tense shootout shown from the point of view of a young child, and the opening suicide bombing is equally powerful. The gunplay feels real and messy, except in the scenes in which realism is abandoned for a cool action movie machismo. When this happens, the Sicario sequel lapses into a by-the-numbers action movie in which characters unload round after round in broad daylight, for no reason in particular and without drawing any attention.

Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, whose other credits include the grim bank robbery movie Hell or High Water (2016), has a brilliant creation at hand in Benicio Del Toro’s Alejandro. As a former attorney with only revenge on his mind, Alejandro becomes the centre of the movie. His whose impenetrable cold death stare, unpredictable behaviour and lack of sentiment carry the momentum forward.

What hampers the narrative is the use of a complex situation on the US-Mexico border for an action movie. The first movie attempted to deal with immigration by actually trying to say something about the subject. Day of the Soldado retains the darkness and dread and the nihilist take on the world works to its credit, but it does not have the ripped-from-the-headlines urgency of the first movie. In certain action scenes that reference the original, the film also pales in comparison because it lacks the superb staging by Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins and the brilliant score by late composer Johann Johannson.

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