The Complexities of Modern Action Cinema in Sicario 2 (2018)
Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado gets politically explosive.
Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado is a gritty, intelligent, educated, passionate sometimes shocking movie, a movie which is a perfect follow up to the first movie, Sicario (2015) and a excellent fix for fans of old school action movies. (Read the full UAMC review of the original Sicario here.)
The audience returns to the morally complex world of Sicario when American agent provocateur Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is asked by his country to respond dramatically after a disgusting terrorist act is committed on American soil. It is discovered that members of The Islamic State have been traveling into America not by air but have instead been trafficked across the American border with Mexico with the assistance of the south American drug cartels.
Graver once again employs the specialist skill set of Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) to create a false flag operation to spark a war that will engulf the cartels and create chaos and disrupt their operations in trafficking in both contraband and people while also preventing further attacks from extremists.
Taylor Sheridan Pens Again
Taylor Sheridan returns to script duties and treats his material with all the sophistication of a rich novel. Sheridan writing the sequel gives the movie a real sense of continuity. The movie doesn’t seem like a quick cash in to the brilliance of the first movie, everything about the writing is spot on from story arc to character development. The other fresh thing about the writing is that it is a script with things to say, very much like the first movie. The script deals with real world issues that are very prevalent in the world we live in but is not presented in a preachy way. It deals with its subject in a mature way as it did in the first movie. This script is very reminiscent of the 1980s and 1990s output of Oliver Stone, in tone, style and journalistic integrity.
Stefano Sollima Does Villenueve
The script’s journalistic approach is fantastically captured by director Stefano Sollima who keeps enough of the first movie’s style for the sake of continuity but is also different enough to keep the franchise interesting. The cinematography echoes the work of Oliver Stone especially Platoon (1983) and the excellent Salvador (1986). There are also touches of Tony Scott’s work with loads of military hardware a la Top Gun (1986). This gives the movie plenty of nice visual touches for the old school action movie fan.
Josh Brolin and Del Toro Are Back
These elements are brought together by a perfect cast. Every role in this movie is played perfectly. You of course have the flawless performances of Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro who clearly relish their two roles. They brilliantly add to their performances from the previous movie offering more depth and complexity in their characters. The two leads are supported by a list of fantastic actors, including Catherine Keener, Matthew Modine and the always underrated Jeffrey Donovan. The real stand out stars of the movie are, however, Isabela Moner and Elijah Rodriguez who play parts of young people caught in the crossfire fire of the war. The overall effect of this cast is to give is that a very human face to the drama and action. There are no bullet proof heroes in this movie, there is a very plausible sense of political risk and human cost.
All in all Sicario: Day of the Soldado is absolutely worth an action movie fan’s time. It is an original franchise, fantastically put together with a plot that is far from formulaic and with plenty of substance that will get you talking after you leave the doors of the cinema.
Growing up in the 80s Ian Young highlight of the week used to be when the mobile video store (a van with some videos in it) came down his street, it was more often than not that he rented these titles so frequently that the tapes disintegrated. He will also roundhouse kick anyone who says Cannon Films’ Masters of the Universe isn’t the greatest film ever made!