Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Directed by Stefano Sollima
Written by Taylor Sheridan
The first Sicario staring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin gave us a gritty across the border and back look at drug cartels and the US government’s involvement to meddle and control them. In this sequel, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin are back and this time there are no rules as Brolin’s Matt Graver character comments at one point in this film. Sadly there are some rules. This perhaps is what makes the second half of the film fall flat as the trailers lends you to believe there will be a huge clash between our two leads of Brolin and Toro, but sadly this never happens.
Here comes the spoilers.
The films starts off literally with a bang. The border and current events discussing border security com front and center as terrorist walk into a Kansas City shopping center and detonate explosive vests in a suicide bombing attack. Matt Graver is brought in to instigate a Cartel War amongst the bosses in Mexico so they are disrupted with fighting each other that the flow of people across the border may slow down. It never really is made clear how this would really slow that operation down, but since we are shown people being killed by explosions in a shopping center we are already with Graver on seeking some sense of revenge/justice. Yet when you sit back in your chair you have to ponder; did anything stop future terrorist acts? Especially how it felt when Graver is informed later in the film that the terrorists who blew up the shopping center were not from overseas, but rather from New Jersey. Wow what an emotional punch to the gut that was.
The plan to start this war is to assassinate a member of one gang, and then kidnap the daughter of another cartel boss presuming of the other gang in retaliation. Everything moves along according to plan until a delivery of the girl back across the border is ambushed by cops paid off by the cartel who seeks to kills the girl or hold for ransom. Graver’s team kills the cops and is left with a huge international incident on his hands and soon his operation is cancelled and he is told to clean up the mess which means he has to kill the girl and del Toro, who he sent off to track and find the girl after she ran away from the earlier ambush. Alejandro, played masterfully by del Toro, eats the screen alive with his quiet and deadly hitman character. Yet he gets tripped out by being seen by a boy who saw him before in Texas in a parking lot. He gets surprised by the Mexican smugglers gang on the bus bringing him and the cartels bosses daughter to the border as they are trying to get back to the states against the wishes of Graver and his superiors. Lucky for Alejandro he set off a GPS locator for Graver to find them and Graver’s team eventually gets the girl, but instead of killing her Graver takes her to the states to enter witness protection. Graver thinks Alejandro is dead and that perhaps is what makes him have a change of heart.
All of that previous paragraph is flat out boring. The first third of the film sets up something epic to happen and instead we get del Toro shot through the mouth in the desert. How to make this film better? Have Alejandro notice the extra guys on the bus and he can get a leg up on them before they ambush him. Have Graver’s team descend upon the bus chaos to extract the girl and then we have the setup of Toro versus Brolin the trailers promised us. Have Graver and Alejandro go head to head with Alejandro taking out Graver’s team one by one along with the gang members. Graver can call in a drone strike to take out Alejandro and believe he is dead. Graver takes the girl to the states for witness protection still. The young gang member can escape this final fight and we can still have the final end scene of Alejandro talking to the kid to recruit as a sicario. Our guys live to fight another day. We get the final fight we wanted to see.
So in closing, deliver the promises you make with your movie trailers. That is what would have made this a great film.
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