Sicario: Day of the Soldado
|Sicario: Day of the Soldado|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stefano Sollima|
|Written by||Taylor Sheridan|
|Music by||Hildur Guðnadóttir|
|Edited by||Matthew Newman|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$75.8 million|
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (titled Sicario 2: Soldado in the UK) is a 2018 American crime-action film directed by the Italian filmmaker Stefano Sollima and written by Taylor Sheridan. A sequel to 2015's Sicario, the film features Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Jeffrey Donovan reprising their roles, with Isabela Moner, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Catherine Keener joining the cast. The story relates to the drug war at the U.S.-Mexico border and an attempt by the United States government to incite increased conflict among the cartels.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado was released in the United States on June 29, 2018, by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label, while it was distributed internationally by Lionsgate. The film is dedicated to the memory of Jóhann Jóhannsson, the composer of the first film, who died in February 2018. It received generally favorable reviews from critics, who called it a "brutal-but-worthy" follow-up to the first film.
A suicide bombing in a Kansas City grocery store kills fifteen people. The United States government responds by authorizing CIA officer Matt Graver to apply extreme measures to combat Mexican drug cartels who are suspected of having smuggled the terrorists across the border. Graver and the Department of Defense decide the best option is to instigate a war between the major cartels, and Graver recruits black operative Alejandro Gillick for the mission. Gillick assassinates a high-profile lawyer of the Matamoros cartel in Mexico City while Graver and his team kidnap Isabel Reyes, the daughter of the kingpin of the Matamoros' rival, Carlos Reyes (who ordered the killing of Gillick's family in the previous film), in a false flag operation.
Graver, Gillick, and their team take Isabel to Texas and stage a fake rescue with the help of the DEA and local police, trying to make her think she was kidnapped by her father's enemies. Gillick bonds with Isabel, and the team makes plans to transport her back to Mexico. They plan to leave her in territory controlled by her father's rivals to further escalate the inter-cartel conflict. However, after they cross into Mexico, the Mexican police escorts double-cross them and attack the American vehicles. Graver and his team kill 25 Mexican policemen to escape the ambush.
Amidst the chaos, Isabel runs away into the desert. Gillick goes after her alone while the rest of the team returns to the United States. Meanwhile, the American government determines that at least two of the suicide bombers in Kansas City were actually domestic terrorists, not foreign nationals, and thus were not smuggled into the United States by the cartels. To quell tensions with Mexico, the Secretary of Defense orders the CIA to abandon the mission. Learning that Isabel witnessed the Americans shooting the Mexican police, the Secretary orders the team to erase all proof of American involvement by killing Isabel and Gillick. Graver in turn orders Gillick to kill Isabel, but Gillick refuses and turns rogue to keep her alive. Graver and his team fly covertly into Mexico, using a GPS device embedded in Isabel's shoe to find them. Gillick knows that if Isabel remains in Mexico, she will be killed. With few resources, he disguises them both as illegal immigrants and pays human traffickers to help them reenter the United States.
At the point of departure, Miguel, a young Mexican-American who has been recruited as a coyote, recognizes Gillick from an encounter in a Texas parking lot two days earlier. He alerts his boss, and Gillick and Isabel are captured. Miguel is forced to shoot Gillick, and the gang leaves him for dead. Fed up with the gang, Miguel abandons them shortly afterward. Graver and his team track down the Mexican gang and kill them all. Graver decides to bring Isabel back to the United States and put her in witness protection rather than follow his orders. Meanwhile, Gillick regains consciousness and discovers he has been shot through the cheek. He finds the dead gang members and their cars, takes a car, and drives for the border. On the way there he kills a search party of the gang.
One year later, Gillick has recovered from his injuries. He locates Miguel, who has now become a full on gangster, at the mall and tells him they are going to have a talk about Miguel's future.
- Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick, a former Mexican Prosecutor turned CIA trained hitman.
- Josh Brolin as Matt Graver, CIA Special Activities Division officer
- Isabela Moner as Isabel Reyes
- Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Forsing, CIA Special Activities Division officer
- Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Gallo
- Catherine Keener as Cynthia Foards, Matt's Superior in the CIA
- Matthew Modine as Secretary of Defense James Riley
- Shea Whigham as Andy Wheeldon
- Elijah Rodriguez as Miguel Hernandez
- Howard Ferguson Jr. as Troy
- David Castañeda as Hector
- Jacqueline Torres as Blandina
- Raoul Trujillo as Rafael
- Bruno Bichir as Angel
- Jake Picking as Shawn
- Arturo Maese Bernal as Mexican Lookout #1 (Gallos thug)
- Ian Bohen as Carson Willis
In September 2015, Lionsgate commissioned a sequel to Sicario, centering on Benicio del Toro's character. The project was being overseen by writer Taylor Sheridan, with Denis Villeneuve initially involved. In April 2016, producers Molly Smith and Trent Luckinbill said Emily Blunt, del Toro and Josh Brolin would return. By June 1, 2016, Italian director Stefano Sollima had been hired to direct what was now titled Soldado from a script by Sheridan. On October 27, 2016, Catherine Keener was cast in the film, which Lionsgate and Black Label Media financed, and which was produced by Thunder Road's Basil Iwanyk, Black Label's Molly Smith and Thad and Trent Luckinbill, and Edward McDonnell. By November 2016, Blunt was no longer attached. The following month, Isabel Moner, David Castaneda and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo joined the cast. Jeffrey Donovan, who returned as Steve Forsing, said that the story would focus on Forsing, Gillick and Graver "going down into Mexico to basically start a war, on purpose, between the rival Mexican cartels," and described the film as a "stand-alone spin-off" rather than a sequel or prequel. In January 2017, Elijah Rodriguez, Matthew Modine and Ian Bohen also joined the cast. Sheridan said, "if Sicario is a film about the militarization of police and that blending over, this is removing the policing aspect from it."
The film was originally set to be released by Lionsgate in the United States, under the title Soldado, but a disagreement between Lionsgate and production company Black Label Media saw the U.S. and Canadian distribution rights change to Columbia Pictures, who then changed the title to Sicario 2: Soldado (which is the UK title) and then thereafter to Sicario: Day of the Soldado, in the North American market. Columbia Pictures distributed the film in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Spain, while Lionsgate distributed it in the UK, as well as handling international rights. In August 2017, Sony set the release date for June 29, 2018.
On December 19, 2017, the first trailer was released. The second trailer debuted on March 19, 2018, confirming the new title as Sicario: Day of the Soldado. The film was released outside North America under the title Sicario 2: Soldado in some locations, and in Italy, the Philippines and others keeping the initial title of Soldado.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado grossed $50.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $25.7 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $75.8 million. The studio has stated the production budget was $35 million, although Deadline Hollywood reported the film cost as high as $45 million before prints and advertising.
In the United States and Canada, Day of the Soldado was released alongside Uncle Drew, and was initially projected to gross around $12 million from 3,055 theaters in its opening weekend. After making $7.5 million on its first day (including $2 million from Thursday night previews), estimates were raised to $19 million. Its debut was ultimately $19.1 million, an improvement over the $12.1 million the first film took in during its wide expansion, and third at the box office that weekend, behind Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2. It fell 61% in its second weekend, to $7.3 million, finishing fifth at the box office.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Day of the Soldado holds an approval rating of 63% based on 249 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though less subversive than its predecessor, Sicario: Day of the Soldado succeeds as a stylish, dynamic thriller—even if its amoral machismo makes for grim viewing." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, down from the first film's "A–".
Variety's Peter Debruge called the film "tense, tough, and shockingly ruthless at times," and wrote, "Soldado may not be as masterful as Villeneuve's original, but it sets up a world of possibilities for elaborating on a complex conflict far too rich to be resolved in two hours' time." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film as a "worthy, rough-and-tough sequel", highlighting the direction, lead performances and Sheridan's script, and saying "Sicario: Day of the Soldado emerges as a dynamic action drama in its own right."
Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a 'B' rating, praising the performance of Del Toro while criticizing the plot, stating: "Alejandro (played by Del Toro) assassinates a cartel functionary in broad daylight... He executes the man, firing his gun exactly 417 times. So Sicario 2 is junk, but it's terrifically stylish junk. Director Stefano Solima has worked in Italian crime thrillers, and he brings a run-and-gun humanity to this, suggesting complexities of border society where the first film defaulted to moody hellscapery".
Time magazine's Stephanie Zacharek found the film to be adequate, though lacking the presence of a character in the sequel as emotive as the one played by Emily Blunt in the original, stating: "There's not a Blunt in sight, though special task force macho men Matt Graver and Alejandro... return. This time their job is to stir up a war between rival Mexican drug cartels; part of the scheme involves kidnapping a drug lord's scrappy teenage daughter. Although she has enough teen-beat orneriness to kick both Matt's and Alejandro's butts, the movie doesn't let her."
In an opinion piece for NBC News, Ani Bundel called the film "as implausible as it is irresponsible" and criticized the use of negative stereotypes, concluding that the film "is the worst kind of propaganda, in that it probably doesn’t even realize just how harmful it really is." Monica Castillo at IndieWire describes the first film as an unsympathetic portrayal of Mexicans, and compares the sequel to state-sanctioned propaganda, decrying the "xenophobic absurdity" of it.
In popular culture
In January 2019, US President Donald Trump made a number of claims with regard to border security including the following claims: that Islamic terrorists were hiding among refugees approaching US-Mexico border, that abandoned Muslim prayer rugs were found at the border, that duct-taped women were smuggled across the border, and that the cartels used high powered vehicles. Inquiries found no evidence for the claims. Subsequently, a number of commentators pointed out that these specific elements were plot points from Sicario: Day of the Soldado and speculated that the fictional film was the source for Trump's claims.
In June 2018, prior to the release of Soldado, producer Trent Luckinbill stated that a third film is in development.
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