Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018): ‘Humanising the Soldier’ – A Film Review



Sicario was a 2015 crime/thriller film about police involvement with Mexican Drug Cartels, written by Taylor Sheridan and directed by Denis Villeneuve. It starred Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt and was a relative success, I however, completely missed the film and was unaware that Sicario: Day of the Soldado was in any way a sequel until arriving to see it. Dropping Villeneuve for Stefano Sollima and Emily Blunt for (if anyone) Isabela Moner, Sicario: Day of the Soldado could be described as more of a spin off than a sequel. Switching the focus to del Toro’s Alejandro Gillick, but otherwise still focuses on police involvement in drug wars on the Mexican/US border. Despite being part of a franchise (and lucky for me), you could consider this continuation of the world of Sicario as a film all on its own.


Performance and Tone

There is perhaps an issue that lies at the fault, perhaps, of its predecessor, that there are some archetypes and racial tension brought into the film. This would beg further discussion and isn’t exactly the focus of this review. What is, follows the rather gritty and dark tone of the film. If Sicario: Day of the Soldado is unkind to its Mexican characters, it is also ruthless to the rest, creating a somewhat bleak tone. There are many instances of superbly acted loaded silences, where characters have the weight of harsh decisions on their shoulders; or even just the vulnerability of the characters, as they make the decision to be completely open with each other or not; it all has its weight. Despite these endearing moments, the film remains dark and characters can be unsympathetically ruthless in their actions. In spite of this the film has an odd sense of pacing, particularly feeding into the end that may well act as just a set up for the third film.


The Look

Action scenes are brief and visceral but always from a distance, allowing the film to focus on emotional moments within particular characters first. This can work but the pacing issues, as events unfold, eventually hinders the films sense of direction. The cinematography, has a very monotone sense of colour which focuses on dirt rather than anything too vibrant, which does work but remains a bit uninteresting at times. Instead the sense of long takes with long shots adds a sense of dread to them, as you anticipate the possibility of what could happen next.



Ultimately, Sicario: Day of the Soldado will really polarise audiences. In the script and in the particular performances of Benicio Del Toro and Isabela Moner: the film is an undeniable success. But in its understanding of pacing it fails to stand alone but allows an atmosphere to build that can be really quite effective. Sicario: Day of the Soldado sits on the fence of Mexico, seeing an angry and desperate environment that will build, like Cidade de Deus, to its violent and questionable outcomes. This will either be for audiences or not.



To resolve Mexican Drug Cartel tensions, CIA operatives Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick instigate a False Flag operation to involve Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner) and potentially start a drug war.






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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Cidade de Deus / City of God (d. Fernando Meirelles Brazil/France 2002)

Sicario (d. Denis Villeneuve USA 2015)

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (d. Stefano Sollima USA/Italy 2018)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Benicio Del Toro

Interview with Isabela Moner

Interview with Stefano Sollima

Behind the Scenes

On Set with Manuel Garcia

Clean the Scene – some Spoilers


If you liked this…

Den of Thieves (2018): ‘Emotion and Plot’ – A Film Review

Red Sparrow (2018): ‘The Gritty Spy Film’ – A Film Review

The Commuter (2018): ‘Part of a Genre’ – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Sicario: Day of the Soldado (d. Stefano Sollima USA/Italy 2018)


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