Sometimes a movie comes out and achieves the “Law and Order” effect, where the story feels ripped from today’s headlines. That was what I was thinking for most of the first half of “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” the follow up to the oh so good “Sicario” directed by Denis Villeneuva. Now we get a new chapter in this story, one that losses the constraints from the first film and like other sequels it strives for bigger and badder, but here also gets a little “dirtier.”
In the world we are in now we have moved past the movies of the men in the back rooms and we are now in the middle of those rooms. Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) who is the guy you call when you need to take the gloves off is the main focus in this story. When a bomb goes off in a store in Kansas City it is up to him to pick up the trail on who is responsible. Being the man he is, it doesn’t take long for him to follow the trail that leads to Mexico. Graver is told to make things happen, and unlike past operations he is encouraged to do whatever it takes for retribution. With that said his first phone call is to Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) a shady former criminal, in which he tells him he is letting him loose this time. The plan is not to start a war with The Cartels, but instead have him start a war between them and they have the plan they think will work. Plans though are meant to go wrong and when this one does it is up to Graver to clean it all up.
Having to follow in the footsteps of something as atmospheric and intense as the first film, I was thinking “Day of the Soldado” would have a hard time but let me tell you, boy was I wrong. While not all the cast has returned, having Brolin and Del Toro back as well as Taylor Sheridan who also wrote the first, keep the beat going. Sheridan who is on quite the hot streak when it comes to writing expands the Sicario universe and moves into a world that is much more violent and insane. While I did enjoy Blunt in the first film, you really don’t miss her as you get a bigger dose of Brolin and Del Toro which really to be honest would make almost any movie better. Emily Blunt is not the only difference as Denis Villeneuva is also gone and replaced by Stefano Sollima, who made his bones on directing multiple crime TV shows. And it looks like he liked the way the first one was filmed and keeps all the cool things including those great shots of a convoy of vehicles. Opening up to more of this underworld was the right choice and it looks like that expansion will continue as there seems to be a lot more possibilities out there. What we get here is the perfect follow up to a very good film and the continuation of what I hope is the beginning of a series I can’t wait to see what they do with.