|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||Sony Pictures Releasing (North America)|
|Box office||$75.8 million|
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (titled Sicario 2: Soldado in the UK) is a 2018 American action-crime 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, Jeffrey Donovan, and Raoul Trujillo 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 and Canada on June 29, 2018, by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label, while it was distributed internationally by Lionsgate (excluding Latin America and Spain). 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.
A terrorist suicide bombing in a Kansas City grocery store kills fifteen people. In response, the United States government orders CIA officer Matt Graver to apply extreme measures to combat Mexican drug cartels who are suspected of having smuggled the terrorists across the U.S.-Mexico border. Graver and the Department of Defense decide the best option is to instigate a war between the major cartels, and Graver recruits operative Alejandro Gillick for the mission. Graver also meets with PMC official Andy Wheeldon to secure mercenaries, helicopters, and military-grade communication equipment in order for the U.S. to maintain plausible deniability while combating the Mexican cartels.
Gillick assassinates a high-profile lawyer of the Matamoros cartel in Mexico City while Graver and his team captures Isabel Reyes, the daughter of the kingpin of the Matamoros' rival, Carlos Reyes (who ordered the killing of Gillick's family in the events leading up to the previous film), in a false flag operation.
Graver, Gillick and their team take Isabel to a safe house in Texas. They stage a DEA raid and pretend to rescue her, making her believe that she had been captured by the Matamoros cartel. They take her to an American military base while the team organizes her return to Mexico. They plan to leave her behind in a Mexican Federal Police depot located inside territory controlled by her father's rivals to further escalate the inter-cartel conflict. However, after they cross into Mexico, the police escort turns against them and attack the American armoured vehicles. Graver and his team kill 25 corrupt 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 warns Gillick and orders him to kill Isabel, but Gillick refuses and turns rogue in order to keep her alive. Both have found shelter at an isolated farm in the desert for the night. Gillick knows that if they stay in Mexico, she will be killed. With few resources, they disguise themselves as illegal immigrants and pay human traffickers to help them re-enter the United States. Graver and his team fly covertly into Mexico, tracking a GPS device Gillick has activated and embedded into Isabel's shoe.
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 taken hostage. Miguel is forced to shoot Gillick, and the gang leaves him for dead. Fed up with the gang, Miguel abandons them shortly afterward. Graver witnesses the apparent killing of Gillick through live satellite imaging and his team track down the Mexican gang, kill them all, and rescue Isabel. Graver decides to bring Isabel back to the U.S. and place her in witness protection rather than obey his orders to kill her. Meanwhile, Gillick regains consciousness and discovers he has been shot through the cheek. He finds the dead gang members and takes one of their cars. He is chased by a gang search party, but he kills them by throwing a grenade through the window of their car.
One year later, a tattooed Miguel walks to his gang's office, in the Texas mall where he had first seen Gillick. He opens the door and is surprised to find Gillick waiting for him. Gillick says: "So you want to be a sicario? Let's talk about your future."
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, Isabela 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 Sony Pictures through its Columbia Pictures label, 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. Sony 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 to other independent distributors. 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 62% based on 278 reviews, with an average rating of 6.31/10. 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-".
Varietys 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 17 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 June 2018, prior to the release of Soldado, producer Trent Luckinbill stated that a third film is in development.