Sicario: Day of the Soldado Doesn’t Suckario

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is good so I’m glad the sequel didn’t become Suckario. A friend asked me why I didn’t think of that for the first one. I guess it takes a sequel to inspire Franchise Fred.

Secretary of Defenss James Riley (Matthew Modine) hires Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to use antiterrorist tactics against drug cartels. Of course, Graver knows a guy. It’s a good 20 minutes before Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) makes his entrance and the film earns that dramatic buildup. It opens with a harrowing, disturbing suicide bombing. Graver’s tactics are somewhat reassuring that someone can root out terrorists, but nothing is free.

Day of the Soldado feels like a Sicario movie, but distinct from its predecessor. It’s not just that Alejandro and Graver are back, and often find themselves in control rooms watching footage on banks of monitors. It deals with the complexities of government intervention in lawless organizations. Yet with a new eye that fits Sicario but is not Denis Villeneuve.

The centerpiece action scene is an armored caravan assault. The protagonists are basically sitting in tanks waiting for moments to strike back, and it’s mostly from the point of view of the little girl Isabel (Isabela Moner), whose kidnapping the Americans orchestrated.

The politics overwhelm the mission as it becomes apparent that success doesn’t matter. Political shifts render the mission moot, but Alejandro and Graver have to eat it. They are fighting against their own authorities as much as the drug cartels and terrorists, and that is the true nature of real world politics.

The deeper it gets, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is full of suspenseful situations, through which Alejandro keeps his cool. He’s rational in the most irrational situations.

Sicario will be a fine franchise for del Toro to continue to play the badass Alejandro. If it has something to say, and gives new directors a playground to make grounded, realistic action movies, that’s a bonus too. Day of the Soldado establishes Sicario as a reliable brand that’s not a one hit wonder.

Written by
Fred Topel also known as Franchise Fred has been an entertainment journalist since 1999 and specializes in writing about film, television and video games. Fred has written for several outlets including About.com, CraveOnline, and Rotten Tomatoes among others. His favorite films include Toy Story 2, The Rock, Face/Off, True Lies, Labyrinth, The Big Hit, Michael Moore's The Big One, and Casablanca. We are very lucky and excited to have Fred as part of the We Live Entertainment team. Follow him on Twitter @FranchiseFred and @FredTopel

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