Sicario 2: Soldado (2018)
Director: Stefano Sollima
Screenwriter: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Matthew Modine, Shea Whigham, Elijah Rodriguez
Stefano Sollima’s hotly anticipated sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s tense thriller Sicario (2015) may have been penned by the same talented hand as the original, but if Sicario 1 was a policy changing expose article from the New Yorker, the sequel was like an hour of Sean Hannity on Fox News.
“In a world” where every person of colour is a despicable human being likely to murder you, sell you drugs, kidnap you or commit a drastic act of terror, white man Josh Brolin must lower himself to such a level to effectively tackle the problem of border-skipping, terror bringing individuals painted in such broad strokes that you’d assume it was directly out of the mantra of a white supremacist group.
Standing alongside the whites in their pursuit of a supposedly honourable vengeance is Benicio Del Toro’s Mexican hit-man Alejandro, whose purpose in the movie seems only to set in stone how even the most honourable of Mexican people is likely to get embroiled in a world of violence and anger whether they want to or not, the likes of which they are to bring to America.
Even the police are murderous scumbags tied to the cartel.
And those Americans of Mexican descent? Well they’re either swearing at you in the street or illegally bringing Mexican terrorists over the boarder so they can blow up your supermarkets or commit murder on your streets.
Unlike in Sicario where both sides were painted in such a way that questioned the morality of their decisions and looked to delicately expose a reality to the Mexico-America relationship, Soldado was about as fake and thinly veiled of a re-hash as you could ever possibly imagine, handling such delicate issues at a time of great political tension with the sort of class and softness that you’d expect from a gun toting, freedom loving, spare-time border patrol cowboy looking for some brown meat to brutally and savagely remove from their land.
Almost as if a purposeful attempt to emphasise the story’s shallow re-imagining of the original’s premise and themes was the characterisation of the movie’s leads, both of whom were given backstories and motivations that went against all of what we had established them to be like in the original movie (despite adequate performances that seemed determined to ensure that this didn’t seem quite so obvious), not only in a way that reinforced the racist rhetoric of the screenplay in as despicable of a manner as you can imagine, but also completely undermined them to the point of lacking any sense of believability; a factor that was clearly not a central concern for this movie.
From a production standpoint, Soldado did offer enough to at least look like a Sicario picture despite director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins departing for this instalment, though it certainly wasn’t its predecessor. Many sequences were shot as if to replicate the excellent work of the original photography team but often failed to capture the tension and were edited around in such a way that would indicate a failure to accurately rip off these aspects for what was an almost straight-to-video level of mimicry that made the film feel like a cheap knock-off.
Ultimately, it became clear in watching this poor sequel that Sicario was like a beautifully constructed piece of orchestral music while Soldado was like a right-wing political commentator having a shouting match with the silent opposition of his own microphone – it may have been adequately produced and performed, but in no way did this film have a single redeeming quality to anyone willing to read the film’s obvious and in your face racism.
Avoid at all costs if you’re at all socially or politically conscious as the insensitivity and prejudice of this film will have you either wanting to revolt against your Trumpian overlord in a way that’ll get you shot on the street or it’ll force you to admit to feelings of resignation regarding the likelihood of your lifelong oppression.
The first Taylor Sheridan movie in a strong slew to be anything other than at least good, Soldado is a film of few redeeming qualities…