Sicario: Day of the Soldado - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado


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Movie: :3.5stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :2stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

Sicario was the 2016 film that simply blew me away. It was the perfect mixture of Harrison Ford Jack Ryan material with a darker, more modern, sensibility to the war on drugs that made it a tour de force to watch. To put it simply, what made Sicario so amazing was a mixture of delicate direction from Dennis Villeneuve, and the way everything was portrayed in different shades of gray, through the perspective of a female cop who dealt in black and white. It guess you could almost call it a “coming of age” story for an adult who is forced into coming to grips with the complexity that is black ops and the U.S.’s war on drugs. Benicio Del Toro as the “Sicario” (roughly translated to Hitman in Spanish) was the standout character in the film, and while the movie did not NEED a sequel in any way, shape, or form, it was announced shortly after the movie’s success that we WOULD be seeing a sequel. Two years later, we have the end results (both films written by Taylor Sheridan, who penned Hell or High Water and Wind River), which is a mixture of really good, and a slight let down from Villeneuve’s masterful directing of the first film.

We’re reintroduced to Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), the ice team lead of a black ops group of U.S. military forces, once again thrown back into the thick of things. Instead of the duplicitous world of drug dealing, it’s a matter of national security. Islamic terrorists are coming across the weak border of Mexico and blowing up New Jersey shopping centers, forcing the Secretary of Defense (Matthew Modine) to send Matt and his commando unit to Mexico to stop the flow. Their method of chaos causing this time was to kidnap the daughter of the Reyes cartel named Isabela (Isabela Moner) and make it LOOK like it’s one of the rival cartels, thus starting a cartel war that will destabilize the region and close off the coyotes and their mules without showing a U.S. presence.

Naturally that requires a Mexican national to act a the “face” of the kidnapping, and Matt brings in his asset, Alejando the sicario (Benicio Del Toro). The mission itself is a rousing success, with Isabela captured and moved to the United States (Texas to be exact) and Matt Graver’s squad impersonating DEA in order to “deliver” her back to her father and make it seem like a rival cartel had captured her in the first place. The only thing is, these things RARELY go as planned and during the transportation back on the final leg, the group is betrayed and attacked by their own escorts. In the conflict Isabela vanishes into the desert, leaving Matt and his team forced to retreat back to United States soil, with only Alejandro able to go track her down before she spoils the whole plan.
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Sicario: Day of the Soldado (Soldato roughly translating across to “Soldier” or “Mercenary”) is a worthy sequel to the incredible 2016 film Sicario, but honestly falls a little bit short of its predecessor. That’s not to say that this sequel is a bad film, it’s very much not the case, It’s just that you have a really HARD uphill battle against you trying to replicate the lightning in a bottle that was Sicario. Instead of the deeply introspective look at the gray area that is the war on drugs with the scary Alejandro in the background, Sicario: Day of the Soldao blends the action of a war movie, with the feeling of a modern western to good effect. Instead of focusing on the intrepid cop and Matt Grave as the main characters, the weight of the film lies nearly completely on Benicio Del Toro’s Alejandro. This movie is much more about the world of the assassin vs. some tale of the seedy side of our government (although there is some of that thrown in with the Secretary of State pulling some shady stuff that really will tick viewers off). It’s a personal tale of the life of living as a Mexican hitman (although slightly romanticized) and his mission to bring this girl back to her father. It works, but it lacks the complexity and depth that Sicario was so famous form.

The action is off the charts here, with more than even Sicario, with some really great set pieces. The opening scene is vicious and visceral, but it’s the double cross on their way BACK to the Reyes cartel that really brings down the house. The movie movies quickly from one action piece to another, but still is given enough time to fully flesh out Alejandro a bit more. A move which is both a benefit and a detriment to the character and film. I say this because we get some great insight into who his character is now, but it loses some of the mystique and terror that framed him in the 2016 film. He’s less a man of mystery and terror, and more a powerful (yet sympathetic) anti-hero who is more akin to some of Clint Eastwood’s western characters than he was in the first movie. Not to leave out some other goodies, Josh Brolin is awesome as the conflicted Matt Graver, and Jeffrey Donovan proves once again why he was such a fantastic choice for Burn Notice. Overall, this is a solid war movie meets western, and while I WILL say it is a step down from Sicario, the film is it’s own thing and a solid sequel. It’s just very difficult to replicate that once in a lifetime experience that was the 2016 predecessor.




Rating:

Rated R for strong violence, bloody images, and language




4K Video: :4.5stars: Video: :4.5stars:
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The rights of Day of the Soldado land with Sony instead of Lionsgate, which almost takes some of the guesswork out of the video encode, and by that I mean Sony has a legendary reputation of making excellent day and date encodes for it’s new films. They don’t disappoint here, as the encode for Day of the Soldato is near perfect, and a very nice upgrade over the really nice 1080p Blu-ray. The film is kind of dusty and drab in appearance, without a whole lot of shiny colors to make it “pop”, so to speak. There’s kind of a sandy and bluish/gray tinge to the film, and even though it was shot on Arria Alexa cameras (and finished at 2K for the master), looks rather filmic in nature. The normal “gloss” of the Arri cameras is replaced with a very textured and almost grainy look that fits the gritty action thriller to a T. Facial details show definite improvement over the 1080p disc, and the blacks are just deep and inky, while showing off more shadow detail. What really stood out was the use of HDR for the main coloring. The Blu-ray looks VERY blue and gray in many spots, giving it an almost hazy look. The 4K UHD brightens that up just a bit, lessening the blue/gray tinge and instead adding more yellow and green to the image. The results can actually be rather staggering in some scenes. Watch the attack in the middle of the Mexican desert. The Blu-ray looks shockingly blue in comparison to the 4K UHD, and the 4K disc shows dramatic clarity increases as a result. The haziness that was associated with the Blu-ray is completely gone, and the rocks and dust and sand look more natural and visible to the naked eye. It’s a definite DEFINITE improvement over the Blu-ray. The splashes of primary colors (like the green of a pickup truck) are bright and do pop off the screen, especially in comparison to the more drab and sandy look the rest of the film had. This is an excellent 4K UHD disc that’s for sure.







Audio: :5stars:
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The Dolby Atmos track is a show stopper for sure, and shows mild, but definite improvements over the 7.1 mix on the Blu-ray. Rip roaring and full of power, the Atmos mix grabs you by the hairs and yanks you all over the place with an explosive action sequence in the first few minutes of the film, letting you know the ride you’re going to be in for. Guns fire off, ricocheting bullets bounce off Humvee side panels, and the score by Hildur Gudnadottir is relentlessly throbbing and full of foreboding tension, giving the sensation of a nail biter. Her score is effortless, yet constantly pulsating in the background. Coming out to play with vicious intensity, and then shifting to the back of your mind while never truly leaving the film for any period of time. Dialog is clean and clear, locked up front where it should be, and the surrounds are just WILDLY active, as I mentioned above. The LFE is deep and guttural, supported constantly by the bass heavy score, and used intensely in the copious amount of action sequences throughout the film. I want to say that I could barely differentiate between the 7.1 mix and the Atmos mix, but that wouldn’t be true at all. The difference s aren’t HUGE, but the directional shifting of the action (listen/watch the desert betrayal scene again. You can hear the action literally move around you on the Atmos track, shifting direction so smoothly that you can actually sense the changes as a person turns his back one way or the other), as well as some neat discrete sounds with the helicopters coming in from above. It’s a powerful track, and easily the single best part of the technical package.






Extras: :2stars:
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• "From Film to Franchise: Continuing the Story"
• "An Act of War: Making Sicario: Day of the Soldado"
• "The Assassin and the Soldier: The Cast & Characters"







Final Score: :4stars:


Day of the Soldado is a fun flick that takes the fun and excitement of a military movie and combines it with the silliness and superman machismo of classic Clint Eastwood films with gusto. The movie dances just on the edge of that silliness as Alejandro seems to possess almost superhuman survival skills, as well as sheer fun and excitement of commandos shooting it out with scummy drug dealers. The film isn’t AS perfect as 2016’s Sicario, but it is a solid movie that has enough twists and turns to keep it interesting, and has the added benefit of having Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin in rare form. Sony’s 4K UHD is a fantastic looking disc , and sports a rip roaring Atmos track as well. Extras are a bit lean, but the movie itself combined with the audio/video scores more than make up for that caveat. Recommended as a very good watch.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Matthew Modine, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener
Directed by: Stefano Solima
Written by: Taylor Sheridan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English, French DVS, Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1, French (Quebec) DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Studio: Sony
Rated: R
Runtime: 122 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 2nd, 2018






Recommendation: Good watch

 

Todd Anderson

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I’m sticking this on my buy list. Probably for when prices drop a bit
 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I will check this one out.
 
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