If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t spoil it here — watch it first, then come back.
When I heard that “Sicario” was getting a sequel, my first question was “why?” The first film was great, but was a sequel really necessary? “Sicario” had a pretty definitive beginning, middle, and end and was certainly not the franchise-style movie we are used to seeing in other fictitious universes like Marvel or Star Wars.
The answer to my questions? A sequel was not necessary, but I’m glad I got one. If you liked the first movie, I would recommend giving this one a watch.
“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” opens with some pretty brutal terrorist attacks. Many of the terrorists in the film arrived in the U.S. via the U.S.-Mexico border, so the Americans go all out in combating the cartels as a means of controlling the border. This means starting a war between the cartels in an effort to get them to destroy each other. Josh Brolin’s character Matt Graver returns from the first film to run the operation, and he recruits Alejandro, the hitman from the first installment played by Benicio Del Toro.
I can’t speak much for border politics — I haven’t worked in that area, and my opinions are just opinions, based on nothing more than some cursory internet research. However, I can speak to the tactical portions and the feeling of being a guy on the ground and having to fight the will and command of politicians far removed from the fight.
Tactically speaking, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” has that same gritty, ultra-realism tone that made the first one so powerful. The firefights are not long — they are staccato, brutal, and over in seconds, just as they tend to be in reality. It’s a fiction film, but it definitely achieves the next level of realism that I’ve only seen in a few movies, to include the traffic jam sequence in the first “Sicario,” the gunfights in “Wind River,” or even some scenes from HBO’s very dark comedy, “Barry.”
I could probably sit there and pick apart faults in a tactical movement here, or a reload there — but I could probably do the same for myself in real life, over and over again forever. At the end of the day, this movie very accurately illustrates the insane advantage given to a shooter if they have a solid foundation of the basics of gun fighting, tactical patience, and brutal precision. These fights are generally over in a matter of seconds, followed by a deafening silence and the remaining shooters continuing on with business. The emotions can come long before, or long after, but during the fighting and operations thereafter there is no time for any of that.
“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” also quite accurately depicts how politicians can get their fingers into these operations and start pulling on strings that are quite simply bad for everyone. Bad for the operators on the ground, bad for the civilians in the area, bad for the mission, bad for the war — these decisions are usually only good for their careers and serve to hand an advantage to whatever enemy we’re engaged with. It’s illustrated a bit dramatically in this film, but these things are still common in real life — for example, new standard operating procedures (SOPs) to appease certain political opinions that put everyone on the ground in danger, nearby civilians included. Or, as I described in a previous article, changes in how drones are used.
Like a lot of these types of movies, this film serves to show just how complex some of these conflicts can be. They are filled with bureaucracy, career-oriented politicians who are completely detached from reality, brutal enemy forces, willing and capable friendly forces right in the middle, countless victims on all sides, and a million other factors that blur the lines between right and wrong. I have always believed that the right choice is always there (or at least the lesser of two evils), but sometimes it can be difficult to find, and it can come at a high price.
Images courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., via IMDB.