Sicario: Soldado (2018)

Sequels are normally bad ideas where the impetus is generally about milking the success of the first film. There’s an inherent problem with this because the impulse is to try something new and different, which goes against the interests of the studios who want something that looks like the original but bigger and better.

I’d felt the first film was so good in terms of writing, acting and direction, it would be almost impossible to recreate, that’s perhaps why Villeneuve declined to direct it, although interestingly he would tackle directing a Blade Runner sequel.

Stefano Sollima does a good job of capturing the look and mood of the first, and writer/director Taylor Sheridan tries to expand on the themes and characters he’d introduced. How does he do that? He gives the two antagonists from the first film something to lose.

At the start it has a clear Apocalypse Now tribute early on where Brolin has a meeting with several military officers and statesmen where they give him his mission following a series of bloody terrorist attacks on home soil. This mission is simple, although its execution is not; turn Mexico into a warzone like Iraq. Destabilize the region so the cartels wipe each other out.

Brolin’s response: ‘I’ll do whatever you want. I can it make it work, if you want it to work’

Brolin reprises his role as the sarcastic, morally elusive federal agent. He has all the great lines in the film ‘Waterboardings what we do when we’re not allowed to torture people. We’re in Africa, I can do whatever the fuck I want’ ‘Fucking mondays’

It’s clear Sheridan is trying to expand the issue of US foreign policy and politics in the first film, although I think Steven Soderberg’s excellent Traffic (2000) and Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana (2005) did this in a more interesting way.

Soldada’s abit more heavy-handed and browbeating with its politics and the consequences of US national security. This is personified in the relationship between with Brolin and Del Toro. Essentially a kindof Faustian relationship, where they reflect the each other’s evil. The roles are reversed here, as Sheridan adds some backstory, not present in the original, that explains Brolin recruited Del Toro and ‘made him’. Revealing the depth of the relationship and their differing motiviations to destroy the cartels makes it less interesting.

Emily Blunt’s bambi-faced police officer was the glue to the first film that held it together and gave us a moral compass that complimented the unethical methods the two agents use.
She’s somewhat replaced with Catherine Keener, who seemed to have about 5 lines that are mainly variations of ‘It’s over.’ ‘We can’t do this’ ‘We’re not evening supposed to fucking be there’. Which feels more like a nagging wife.