Posted on ANDPOP:
The job of a sequel is an unenviable one. Unless your name is Empire Strikes Back or my personal favourite, Hot Tub Time Machine 2*, there are few sequels that live up to or surpass their predecessor. Plus, taking the helm from one of the most accomplished young directors (Denis Villeneuve) is not an easy task. Italian director Stefano Sollima faced both hurdles with Sicario: Day of the Soldado. You can imagine the hesitation he must have felt when taking on this project. To live up to the acclaim of Sicario (2015) is definitely overwhelming. Luckily, he had a large caliber weapon in his back pocket: screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, who came back to write the Sicario follow up. Together, they made a sequel worth watching.
Day of the Soldado does not disappoint. Immediately, we are brought into a very tense opening scene with devastating consequences. It’s much like the first film but, completely with its own viewpoint, focus and storyline. From then on we get to re-meet two of our three favourite characters from the original, Josh Brolin’s tough as nails CIA agent Graver, and Benicio Del Toro’s ex-cartel assassin Alejandro. The story moves quick so there is not much time for pleasantries. Their relationship hasn’t changed much from the first film, but I truly think their performances might be better in this film than the first. Especially since in Sicario, Emily Blunt was most definitely the focal point. In Day of the Soldado, Brolin and Del Toro come into their own and they make this story feel real. Also, a massive shout out to Jeffery Donavan who once again proves there are no small parts in films. He’s a treat. Speaking of treats, Elijah Rodriguez and Isabel Reyes proved to me that not all teenagers in films are terrible. Their performances were fantastic and clearly show that Sollima has a flair for directing young actors.
I’ll end this review here before I start spoiling it. I believe a great film begins and ends with its writer. Taylor Sheridan is the screenwriter equivalent to the goose with the golden egg. He has written 3 of the best films of the past decade: Wind River, Hell or High Water and Sicario. Now, he adds a fourth, Sicario: Day of Soldado. The only thing weighing down the film is the sequel status, and the expectations that carries with audiences and critics alike. If you liked any of Sheridan’s past films, you’ll enjoy Sicario: Day of Soldado.
Reviewed by @ScottyWillats
* I’m aware that Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has a 14% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t care. It’s still one of my favourites.
Read more at ANDPOP.