Benicio del Toro has, kind of quietly, morphed into a full-fledged movie star in a day and age where there really aren’t many movie stars left. Del Toro’s best known early work is probably The Usual Suspects, but that led to a few years of showing up in stuff like Excess Baggage and The Fan. After Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Traffic, Del Toro soon became a go-to actor of substance.
Looking at Benicio del Toro’s filmography now, it’s almost as if he had a reset around 2008 after Steven Soderbergh cast him as the lead in his epic, Che. Over those next four years, his acting output dwindled a bit (he did direct a segment of 7 Days in Havana). But then something interesting happened as del Toro, like so many other actors today, went into franchise mode. After flirting with Star Trek, del Toro was cast as The Collector in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe. This isn’t a huge role, but it allows del Toro to show up in any of the cosmic-themed films and be quirky.
And then, of course, he signed on for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, playing a hacking mercenary named DJ who doesn’t have a heart of gold – and maybe has the best line in the new trilogy. After Finn screams at DJ, that he’s wrong about the Resistance, DJ responds by simply saying, “Maybe.” (In Johnson’s director’s commentary for The Last Jedi, Johnson says del Toro’s line was supposed to be something like, “wrong and rich,” but del Toro changed it to “maybe” on the spot.)
With Sicario: Day of the Soldado, it appears del Toro finally has a franchise of his own. Which comes as a pretty unexpected development, because Denis Villeneuve’s first Sicario film was excellent, but it’s also not the kind of movie where anyone is watching it and thinking, “There will be a bunch more of these movies.” Especially considering that Sicario only grossed $84 million worldwide. And it happens all the time: actors and filmmakers say things like, “Oh, we have a good idea for a sequel,” and we think, “Oh, that’s great, but that will never happen.” Well, this time it did happen. Here we are with a second Sicario film.
For Sicario: Day of the Soldado, gone are Villeneuve (who directed Blade Runner 2049 instead) and star of the first film, Emily Blunt (who has been busy with A Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns). And those are the two reasons why I’m so surprised I enjoyed Sicario: Day of the Soldado as much as I did. Because, usually, when the star and one of the best directors working today don’t return for the sequel, that’s not a good sign. But nothing about these Sicario movies are usual.