When I first heard about a sequel to Sicario – one of my favourite films of 2015 – my first thought was ‘why does this need to exist?’ Having seen the film, I don’t have a satisfactory answer to that question.
Look, Day of the Soldado is far from a total disaster. It’s distinguished by stellar performances all ‘round, whether it’s returning players Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro, veterans like Catherine Keener (in a tiny role), or young actors like Elijah Rodriguez and Isabela Moner. Moner, in particular – who shot onto my radar in the most recent Transformers film and is set to play Dora the Explorer next year – seems destined for super-stardom. New director Stefano Sollima can’t attain the high standard set by Villeneuve and Deakins, but he does an admirable job nonetheless.
The problem is the screenplay, from Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan. Villeneuve elevated the first film’s middling script by highlighting the terrifying sociopathy of the American war on drugs and – in particular – Benicio del Toro’s menacing hitman. Day of the Soldado inexplicably reframes this druglord-turned-American-asset into an antihero with a soft spot for children; remember, he murdered children in cold blood in the last film.
Adequate, but unnecessary.