Run Time: 123 Mins
What To Expect: More of the same, not as good, but worth it
I took a glance at the Rotten Tomatoes verdict for this movie. For each film on the site, Rotten Tomatoes has a consensus, with the one for this movie decrying ‘machismo’. I sort of knew after watching this film that it would take shots from the hard left (i.e. 80% of all critics) and the brief visit to RT confirmed it. Along with the film being too macho, it was also fitted up as xenophobic and a ‘Fox News Conspiracy’ movie. Beyond that I stopped reading. Anyway, the first movie was good, is this one good too? It’s easy to watch — good, but not as dynamic or well rounded.
The second movie has Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver return for more CIA dirty plumbing work. After suicide bombers hit a grocery store in America, the chain of information soon tells the government that the killers were aided and abetted by the Cartel. Already at loggerheads with the Cartel, the Secretary of Defense (Matthew Modine) has a ‘that does it!’ moment and recruits Brolin and his team, which includes wise ass Steve Forsing (Jeffrey Donovan, who doesn’t love him?) to stage a kidnapping of a Cartel family member, in order to have Mexican drug lords start killing each other. Benicio del Toro’s Alejandro Gillick returns to help – he still has stiff scores to settle.
I would say that the first film is great. Whereas the second movie is decent. This one, directed by Stefano Sollima, has less drive and purpose than the first — the story, I have to say, was surprisingly rudimentary, with the movie relying a lot on set pieces. The third act in particular falls asleep on its audience… the question, ‘that’s it?’ is probably answered by, ‘in a minute bro, setting up sequel’. That would lead me to not be inclined to visit this movie again in the near future, but definitely again.
Definitely again because Soldado still has an energy and beauty about it here. It looks good, it’s very stylish, with engaging and coherent action scenes. It also has a meanness to it — like Denis Villeneuve, Stefano Sollima is capable of soliciting a touch of Walter Hill, especially with Josh Brolin and del Toro’s hard-bitten performances. Some people just won’t like this sort of thing; a reflection of the real world, with nasty men doing nasty things. And, shock-horror, sometimes to secure the living standards of their countrymen.
Not a movie for everyone – your wife will dislike it, and an inferior sequel, but worth looking at.