Sicario: Day Of The Soldado director Stefano Sollima was brought in to replace Denis Villeneuve, who made 2015’s Sicario a critical darling. Written again by Taylor Sheridan, this Sicario sequel has another big difference from the first film: it’s missing the star of the first film, Emily Blunt (there is chatter she might return for a third installment). And gone with her is the moral center of the whole first film. This is something that Sollima not only had to address, but he uses it to change the whole foundation of this second film. Without the lens of Blunt’s Kate Macer, both Benicio del Toro’s Alejandro Gillick and Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver are characters we as an audience now see in a different light, sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.
Ahead, the Italian director takes us through why he thinks this budding Sicario franchise is similar to that of Alien and Aliens (at least in the contrast of a Ridley Scott movie versus a James Cameron movie) and explains why Benicio del Toro fires his gun in this movie in such a peculiar way.
Were you a big fan of the first movie? Is that why you wanted to do this?
I read a lot of scripts, but I was trying to find a project where I was sure not to lose my touch, my specificity. And then by reading the amazing script of Taylor, I suddenly clicked. I said, whoa, this is me, me in another language. And I felt it was the perfect project to start this, let’s say, transition.
You mention not losing your touch, because the first Sicario and the way Denis filmed it is also very specific. Were you concerned you’d have to try and match that at all?
I mean, I loved the movie and I love Denis personally. I find him to be a super-talented director. But I also know that each director is completely different from the other. It’s like we are fingerprints, no? They find a director that was able to portray the same world using his own specificity, not trying to copy anything, but doing something that is at the same time completely original, completely different, but also respectful of the mood, of the atmosphere. So, of course, done in completely different ways, my way.
But I think this was an intelligent and smart idea from the producer, to make a sort of a different kind of a trilogy. You know the first one that comes to my mind? It’s completely different of course, was Alien. Alien, Aliens…
Yes, Aliens is very different from Alien…
Yeah, they are completely different, done by completely different, amazing directors, each one of them with a precise style. But still, altogether, they are really good.
But with the Alien comparison, it would be like if you were doing Aliens but you didn’t have Ripley because Emily Blunt is not in this movie.
Yes, I partially agree. I love her as an actor and I think that she was really brilliant in the movie, but I’m talking about her character. Her character, in the first one, was a sort of moral point of view, no? So everything was this new world and the two characters of Matt and Alejandro were introduced by her, but with the moral judgment in. I think the most interesting part of Soldado was that now, you face the two characters without any filter, without any moral judgment, and you start knowing them better and they are not exactly what you expect.
Benicio del Toro’s character, you do see him in a completely different way in this movie.
So it’s like you change the acts of the story. When I first read the script, this was an interesting part. It was an interesting challenge, because in a way, it’s become a new movie with two characters that you’re supposed to know a little bit, but you do not.