While two of the stars from the first Sicario return for the second movie, things are very different behind the camera. Sicario: Day of the Soldado sees a new director at the helm–as well as a different cinematographer.
For fans of the first film, director Denis Villeneuve is almost as closely tied to the franchise as stars Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro. However, since Sicario‘s 2015 release, his stock has risen considerably. Arrival, which hit theaters in 2016, earned him an Academy Award nomination. Then came Blade Runner 2049, his latest directorial effort. While it was announced early on that he was involved in Day of the Soldado, any chances he might sign on as director were dashed when the filming schedule conflicted with production on the Blade Runner sequel.
Thankfully, though, Villeneuve wasn’t completely absent from the preparations the second film. “He was really helpful in this process,” producer Trent Luckinbill says. “He was still a part of the team when we talked about developing a second. He was on board, certainly his world got very very busy, and we wanted to move quickly. But, with his blessing and with his support, and help along the way we went after someone who had some of the same qualities that we thought Denis brought in the first one and he does in all of his movies, which I think first and foremost is his ability to hold tension.”
That person was Stefano Sollima, whose previous credits were all Italian movies and TV shows. Day of the Soldado is his first American film, but producers were confident he would rise to the occasion. “I think all the producers through different avenues had met with Stefano and looked at his work, maybe other projects, or whatever,” Luckinbill says. “But, his vision, looking at what he’s done with his Italian films and shows, we felt like he was a guy who would do tension in a way that the movie sort of needs and has been established.”
Luckily, the cast acclimated to having a new leader behind the camera fairly quickly. “I think within a couple weeks, you realize that not only have we gotten lucky enough to find another really, really wonderful, talented filmmaker,” co-star Josh Brolin says, “but we also had [cinematographer] Dariusz Wolski, who I think was instrumental in making this movie as good as it was.” Wolski, whose previous credits include The Martian and Alien: Covenant, picked up the banner from Sicario cinematographer Roger Deakins, bringing his own sensibilities to Day of the Soldado.
With Wolski at his side, Sollima worked hard to make sure the returning cast was comfortable with him, co-star Benicio del Toro believes. “He was very cool, very collaborative,” the actor explains. “It made it easy for us to collaborate, and he listened to what Josh or I had to say about the characters. I was game for it, you know? He was cool that way.”
What’s more, for del Toro, Sollima put a new twist on Sicario‘s visual style. “I think his approach to violence is a little different than the way Denis Villeneuve does violence,” he explains. “I think Stefano looks at it straight in the eye. Denis Villeneuve likes to suggest. But otherwise they’re both extremely talented, and I’m happy with what Stefano did for Day of the Soldado.”
Whether the world Sollima did for the film stands up to the first Sicario for fans remains to be seen. However, reviews on the new film are, by and large, positive. GameSpot’s review of Sicario: Day of the Soldado notes that both Sollima and Wolski have crafted a story that does “a more than adequate job shaping this sequel in the original’s style and form, and you’ll easily become engrossed in the movie and stop thinking about who directed what.” You can judge for yourself on June 29, when the film hits theaters.