Sicario: Day of the Soldado ★★

Thus far, 2018 seems to have been a bad year for second movies with Pacific Rim 2, Jurassic World 2, Deadpool 2, and even the second Star Wars anthology being disappointing. Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the latest disappointing sequel and has a bigger dip in quality than any of the others I mentioned. This film really drops the ball after the fantastic original. Writer Taylor Sheridan delivered tight, neo-western scripts for his previous three films (Sicario, Hell or High Water, Wind River) but Sicario: Day of the Soldado contains probably his worst work to date. It tells a story with very standard moral problems for this kind of cinema, and lacks Sheridan's usual restraint by indulging in a deluge of cheesy plot points in the second half. 

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is also politically inept, playing itself as conservatively anti-immigrant but also anti-imperialist. It's just trying too hard to show everything as bad. This is a film which links jihadis with Mexican immigrants, heavily implies that the US follows international law and the events of this movie are an exception (the reality: the US illegally kills and tortures people every day), and also implies that the US president is scared of impeachment for breaking international law [LOL, when was the last time that a) any US president was impeached for this, b) the media called for the impeachment of any president who killed civilians abroad]. The first film at least seemed to question these ideas, but the sequel doesn't do anything but let the characters say these things unquestioned. Considering the loud outcry right now over Trump's immigration policies, this film just doesn't seem well timed. 

What also doesn't help Sicario: Day of the Soldado is that it lacks the control of the first film. The editing and framing are both serviceable but sometimes sloppy. The music is good by itself but too overbearing and obvious in many scenes. The first Sicario contained some of Roger Deakin's best work but without him, the sequel seems to lack a lot visually. There's still some very effective technical elements - the moments of strange silent after a cacophony of gunfire always creates simmering tension - but unfortunately Sicario: Day of the Soldado is mostly just perfunctory in its execution. 

Sicario: Day of the Soldado isn't totally terrible but it's a stodgy, uninteresting movie that lacks almost everything that made the first film great. It's just an unnecessary disappointment.

2018 Ranked

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