Back in 2015, Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario redefined the classic style of action-thriller with a smart, penetrating journey into the unforgiving world of drug cartels and death without consequence that starred Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin in the lead roles. The film picked up the plaudits across the critical spectrum and when you’ve got a team like Roger Deakins as DP and Taylor Sheridan on writing duties, it’s easy to understand why it was such an impressive success.
Moving forward to 2018, Sicario 2: Soldado felt like something they didn’t really have to bring to the table but with Brolin, del Toro and Sheridan on writing duties again, there was hope and you can easily understand why the actors would want to revisit these brilliantly unique characters back to life and, in truth, I’m really glad they did because this sequel – or more so continuation of the world from the first film – is an absolute belter.
Stefano Sollima takes on directing duties, you’ll know his work best from the excellent series Gomorrah, and they don’t mess around getting straight back into the action, which is effortlessly linked from the first film with the track ‘The Beast’ from the talented, and now sadly departed, Jóhann Jóhannsson. That deep, oppressive emotive composition pours the screen full of impending energy and with it you’re instantly hooked as we follow helicopters hunting down people trying to illegally cross the Mexico/US border.
In truth, Soldado is the next chapter of Sicario as the story has moved to people being smuggled across the border but this new film has a very different vibe running through it. This isn’t just your ‘normal’ folks being brought into the States as they discover, after a rather unsettling supermarket explosion scene, that the Cartels have been helping terrorists into the country under the radar. But after Matt (Brolin) does his usual job, he learns the truth and turns to old friend Alejandro (Del Toro) to help start a war within the dark world they exist.
What’s smart about Sollima’s film and Sheridan’s follow-up script is that it’s very much taking us forward in both the main characters lives. Just as importantly though, the intensity created from the first film continues but they up the ante from the off, much like when the focused, specific worlds of Alien and Aliens shifted in scale but with a much more refined touch.
While Brolin and Del Toro are key once again, it’s the latter that really stands out and this is a role you could watch him in for hours. He’s pushed to his absolute limits and you’re there with him at every intense, shocking and exciting step. Catherine Keener is also involved, as CIA director Cynthia Foards, but her role is a little underused aside from her decision-maker, cold-blooded nature. Young Isabela Moner also plays a vital part as Isabel Reyes in proceedings, she’s exceptional in a role that reminded me somewhat of Natalie Portman in Leon.
Sicario 2: Soldado isn’t a sequel, it’s a whole new dirty and ferocious powerful world all of its own and it’s unreservedly brilliant. You’ll be hooked from start to finish and I can’t wait to see what comes next, especially if rumours of a trilogy become a reality.
Sicario 2: Soldado is available on Digital Download from 22 October, and on 4K UHD, Steelbook, Blu-ray and DVD from 29 October.
Pre-order now: https://amzn.to/2P6Gune