In one of the early scenes in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, there is an extensive discussion on terrorism, with different characters defining the menace that it is. The film establishes connections between drug cartels and terror units. But, at the end of the day, Sicario: Day of the Soldado remains an action film. Unlike its predecessor, which, on the back of a heartrending performance by Emily Blunt, offered a poignant and layered experience underneath the stylishly devised action scenes, Day of the Soldado lacks depth and emotion.
The film starts off with a gruesome suicide bombing at a grocery store in Kansas. Mexican drug cartels are suspected of assisting Islamist outfits enter America to carry out the violence. Enter Josh Brolin (from the prequel), as government agent Matt Graver. Teaming up with his Mexican friend Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), an ex-attorney, he attempts to curtail the threat at hand.
The curiosity that builds around Alejandro, also a victim of the war between the government outfits and the drug cartels, was one of the major hooks in the first film. Even when the other characters shone, it was Alejandro’s journey to avenge the death of his loved ones that kept the film intriguing. In this one, the spotlight shifts almost completely to Alejandro. Hence, the intrigue diminishes. His piercing stare, the unpredictability of his actions, repressed emotional turmoil, all make their mark. But you don’t marvel at it, probably because you know how it’s going to end.
The plan of action is to kidnap Isabela (Isabela Moner), a young and rebellious Mexican heiress to a drug empire. One of the prime action sequences is seen through the eyes of a kid, making the vulnerability of the people involved, the anxiety and the drama, plausible. The presence of the kid ensures the occasional heartwarming instances. In one sequence, Alejandro lands up at a deserted house with the young girl, who he is trying to save. The man of the house is deaf, communicating in sign language. Alejandro reciprocates. This, we view through the perspective of the young girl who is curiously amused, as are we. But, that is what accounts for the film's emotional quotient.
The film, otherwise, treads on dangerous moral ground. It’s violent, unapologetically so, most of it orchestrated by the people responsible for protecting the civilians. Italian director Stefano Sollima creates stylish shooting sequences. Add to it the pulsating background score by Hildur Guonadottir. You watch it in anticipation of something bigger, crueller on the anvil. But it falls flat because it does not rouse emotion like the prequel. And then, there’s a cue for a next movie on the anvil. Hope that fares better.
Film: Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner
Director: Stefano Sollima