Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) Cover

If all you need is 2 hours of pure tension with no release or meaningful resolution, then Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is the perfect movie for you. Well composed with excellent acting, cinematography, and action, this follow-up to *Sicario almost does enough right to overcome the things that it does wrong. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite get there and will only satisfy a particular niche market.

Day of the Soldado is a military suspense/drama about a team that is attempting to undermine Mexican drug cartels by performing black ops missions with the intent of causing the cartels to turn on each other. The major tension of the movie comes from an increasing divide between Matt Graver (the leader of the operation, portrayed by this summer’s rockstar Josh Brolin) and his operative Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). Nearly the full runtime of the film is dedicated to pushing these characters from being on the same side into a fundamental clash of motivations that feel like they can only end in a final nail-biting conflict.

My biggest issue with the film is that it lacks a resolution that matches either the tone or concludes the story. I happen to greatly enjoy a movie that isn’t necessarily satisfying as long as the conclusion changes how you feel about the movie leading up to that point. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I highly respect a film that isn’t afraid of having an ending with greater meaning at the expense of a feeling of resolution. However, I don’t feel that the ending of Sicario: Day of the Soldado accomplishes anything meaningful.

After two hours of intense music constantly pushing me to the edge, eagerly awaiting an explosive resolution, the film ends with a whimper instead of a bang. The end doesn’t even have a thematic or narratively appropriate ending to the plot. It’s a strange cut to a b-plot that implies that the movie was always about what it means to be and become a Sicario, when, in fact, we never get a sense of that from anywhere else.

Benicio Del Toro contemplates what this movie could have been.

These were major mood killers for me because they undermined everything I wanted from Day of the Soldado. Outside of this, the rest of the movie is pretty fantastic and will appeal strongly to a crowd who is starving for what this movie does deliver: grounded violence with intense physicality and heart-stoppingly tense conflicts. Every other scene is a powerfully well-directed action setpiece with stomach-churningly impactful visuals. Characters are blown up, knocked down with believable force from firearms, and struggle with wounds that are devastating to watch.

With every aspect considered, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is an underwhelming entry into the genre that will only satisfy those who desperately need intensely physical violence and constant tension to the point that they do not need a satisfying resolution. Sadly disappointing, but not without merit for those craving that very specific kind of movie.

Final Verdict:Worth watching for a sepcific kind of audience, but unsatisfying for most.