Stefano Sollima builds upon the original, shifting the story from the war on drugs to illegal immigrants at the US border.
The director uses the same core elements and keeps Soldado close to its roots. The brooding atmosphere combined with the doomsday musical score builds up to intense combat action. The recurring characters Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro are a perfect fit.
Matt Graver is the kind of guy that manages to be menacing even in cargo shorts and crocs. Alejandro is the quiet and deadly type yet you still respect him for settling a score with dogged persistence. There are new characters here that prove to be a good find.
Unfortunately, Sollima can’t create the same potency despite his efforts to follow the original. Soldado is essentially the less inventive and compelling Sicario.
Repetitive aerial shots of black vans, black hawks, and head-on combat action make you remember the original’s more memorable stark imagery and measured action sequences. It’s still watchable, but you can’t help but compare the two when a standard has been set.
Without a character like Kate, there’s no sense of humanity here. The young characters are swept along a series of events while the leads remain unkillable. As pretentious as the original may seem, it’s able to imbue entertaining elements with a moral undercurrent.
Soldado also tries to be the thinking man’s action movie but can’t come up with any meaningful perspective on all its violence. Sicario was about the dehumanization and futility of war. Soldado is a half-hearted attempt at self-redemption and a reductive commentary on illegal immigration. It doesn’t help that the script turns into a Hollywood ending to open the movie for a possible trilogy.
Sollima does turn in a good effort here. Soldado is by no means a bad movie. Unfortunately, as sequels often go, the original is simply better.
Day of the Soldado
Soldado is a serviceable action movie but lacks a compelling story and characters to deliver the same impact of the original.