If you need anyone to write you a gritty, heart thumping thriller Tyler Sheridan's your guy. The critically acclaimed writer is behind such works as Hell or High Water, Wind River and of course Sicario. Hot on the heels of Wind River's surprise success Sheridan returns with Sicario 2: Soldado - as the drug war worsens and terrorists are trafficked across the Mexican border into America, Matt Graver joins forces with Alejandro once again to strike at the heart of the drug cartels.
Soldado offers yet another immersive thriller but one that is almost entirely insignificant in comparison to Sicario. Soldado is audibly engaging rather than visually alluring, aside from the odd long shot deep in the Mexican desert there really is nothing striking about the cinematography at all. In any other shoot em' up thriller this would be no issue, but this is Sicario we're talking about, the film that established Denis Villeneuve as a special kind of director offering stories beyond guns, dust and dirt. Whilst the first stuck with a yellow colour pallet and scorching sandy landscape shots, Soldado apperas grey, metallic and unfortunately rather bland.
Two of the best aspects of Sicario don't even appear in this sequel. Emily Blunt's absence is unexplained as it is disappointing - clearly the British actress prioritised A Quiet Place which worked critically and commercially in her favour - sadly her absence proves how fundamental she was to the first Sicario. On top of this Villeneuve's arty direction is sorely missed, along with the journey through the corrupt Mexican law enforcements, drug cartels and the white knuckle border crossings he took us through. In hindsight Soldado offers the same grippingly action but doesn't even come close to what the original achieved - think of the terrifying and breathtaking car chase on the bridge. If there was any reason to follow on this crime/thriller story it would be Blunt or Villneuve - due to the departure of both of them Soldado appears a little pointless.
The harsh, atmospheric soundtrack drowns out the entire picture and all for the better. Immersing you into a world of drugs, violence and corruption the electronic score jangles the nerves against the tense story, contrasting the differences either side of the border and the danger that takes place within each location. Moreover, the sound design is highly impressive, echoing gunshots, the crunch of stones underneath each footstep, the shattering of windows and the hypnotic spin of helicopter blades. Every sound serves a purpose and is ultimately - disappointingly - more impressive than the story the film is trying to tell. If there's anything to be taken away from Soldado it's that the sound team have created something they ought to be incredibly proud of.
Above all, Soldado is all over the place. Plot devices flow in and out of the other with nothing actually slotting cohesively into place - fundamentally you have two worlds colliding with various other loose bits left hanging - not only does it result in a messy film but it lessens the impact as well. If it weren't for Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, a few well put together scenes and a brilliant, use of sound Sicario 2 would have ended up a fairly poor film. Disclaimer: don't make a new Sicario film by taking away two of the best parts of the original.
Sicario 2: Soldado:
Pinch of info
Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.