Following up on a singular film like “Sicario” is a hard prospect. The essence is that bigger isn’t always better but also the texture of certain films cannot be replicated. Denis Villenueve (who elected to make “Blade Runner 2049” instead of this film) had such a specific notion of the texture with its sheer brutality and overtones along with a protagonist point of view and an extended superstructure which made it extremely unique. “Day Of The Soldado” fares better than most sequels simply because the ideas behind it are even more prevalent than when the first film was made and even since this sequel itself was released in theaters with everything that is happening along the Mexican border near San Diego. The essence is that the two lead characters of Matt and Alejandro (as played by Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro respectively) have to grow and be held accountable in certain ways for their actions. Of course, there is no way to parallel or even come close to the conclusion of the original “Sicario” which this reviewer initially stated in a way as a “reverse Scarface” after seeing it at the premiere in Cannes a couple years back. Here there is no true segment like that though one involving Alejandro in the desert is pretty wrenching and oddly enough sets another structure in motion that might be interesting to contemplate should the story continue. The director in Stefano Sollima, an Italian filmmaker who made the TV series “Gomarrah” on the mafia in Italy was a great choice but again is no Denis. However with original writer Tye Sheridan writing the sequel and completely understanding the machinations of his world and Darius Wolski who has shot “Fight Club” & “Se7en” for David Fincher, the behind the scenes elements are up to scale. Even Isabella Moner who helped lead the most recent “Transformers” movie shows a definite range as the kidnapped daughter of a drug lord here and holds her own. The Special Features on the disc are succinct and very intuitive of the characters and what the film is trying to achieve from the locations and “making of” to hyperfocusing with the actors on what makes the characters tick. “Day Of Soldado” is not its predecessor but it does a good job in trying to maintain the bar.
By Tim Wassberg
The impact of “Starship Troopers” over the years is as much a force of sheer will as in the ideas it presents. Like a novel like “Dune”, the essence of political upheaval is always cyclical. Having done interviews for the original film as well as the first of the CG offshoots, it is interesting to see the essence of creativity but also of choice in the ongoing adventures which have been helped by the increasing possibility of CG animation even on lower budgets. “Starship Trooper: Traitor Of Mars” is one of the best follow ups so far simply because of the scope and the texture of the bug attacks using an essence of Mars as a back drop. While there are throwbacks and even harks to aspects of “Total Recall” in terms of the final solution, the progression of the story and of its underdog pinnings works well in congruence with the original story. The other aspect which was undeniably drawing for me personally as a review was Dina Meyer’s character Diz from the original who didn’t survive beyond that outing. That was one of the most grounded and connective aspects in all around effective film was her and Johnny Rico’s romance. Her voice is brought back into the fold here and used to good available though storywise it is reaching quite a bit. An explanation which is slightly inferred is not brought to fruition so even leaving it open ended does nothing for the story except bridge it. This is one of the story’s strengths but obviously its shortcomings. Technically a lot of what is done (although in many ways an original Machinima type piece) is entertaining and also timely (especially with the way the Sky Marshall and sense of loss is handled. The extras which focus more on a series of interviews with Casper Van Dien (who plays Johnny Rico) as well as Ed Nuemeier (who wrote the movie screenplay as well as this outing give perspective as does interviews with the creative team in Japan. Not eye opening but definitely solidly done.
By Tim Wassberg