Sicario 2: Soldado 4K Blu-ray Review
Who are we starting a war with? Everyone!
Sicario 2 Film Review
The sequel to Villeneuve's sleeper hit expands the first film's tense thrills into all-out gang war, with Benicio del Toro going full tilt in Sicario 2: Soldado.Having Sheridan back to do the screenplay, and the late, great composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (who did all of Villeneuve's work so far, including Blade Runner 2049) replaced by his collaborator and cello soloist on Sicario, Hildur Guðnadóttir, almost compensates for the lack of Villeneuve himself, with Gomorrah director Stefano Sollima cutting his teeth on his first US production by cleverly electing to follow the line of imitation being the best form of flattery.
Indeed, there's no denying that, for better and worse, Sicario 2 flows effortlessly from the same spring as its predecessor, feeling very much a continuation of - and expansion on - the first film, and marrying up the tone, style, cinematography (regular Ridley Scott collaborator, Dariusz Wolski - who shot the hell out of Prometheus - stepping in for Roger Deakins and also framing it in the same way), as well as the music, characterisations and dark subject matter.
Of course, the downside to all of this is that it is, very clearly, just a middle chapter in a franchise that nobody ever expected, which is all good and well if we get a further film (or two) but, if we don't, it's just not a particularly well-resolved conclusion. This is not necessarily a bad thing (films from Empire Strikes Back to Infinity War have gained considerable acclaim despite their open endings) but Sheridan hasn't even written a complete script here, with the film feeling very much like the first two hours in a four or five hour narrative, and with none of the multiple arcs tied off satisfactorily.
This could turn into the unlikely Godfather of Cartel franchises.
Once you get past the fact that the most unlikely of franchises, Sicario, has succumbed somewhat to commercialism, you can also embrace - and perhaps even celebrate - the fact that a film like this even has a franchise. Not Transformers; not Mamma Mia! - a limited budget, relatively independent flick which carried little to no clout but made a surprise return and was chosen to be made into a bigger saga. Who knows, this could turn into the unlikely Godfather of Cartel franchises.
Aside from the excellent characterisations for the core players (you could watch del Toro - the surprise star of the first film - being this cool all day long), Sicario 2 trades in the same powerful, tense, ambush setpieces that defined the first movie, with some electric skirmishes that come out of nowhere and just about every trip across the border building in tension. Reminiscent of the previous benchmark for urban tactical assaults - Clear and Present Danger - the action sequences in this are superior, with plenty of shock twists along the way to remind you that we're very much in the same dark territory as the first tale.
Indeed, Sheridan and Sollima have done well to make this such a fluid sequel, so much so that - should they be able to persuade him between working on Dune and perhaps even another Blade Runner - Villeneuve could even return to helm the third movie (if they made one) and the entire trilogy would likely feel like one complete whole. Assuming, as one might hope is more likely than not, they make a further film, this one makes a hell of a middle chapter.
Sicario 2 4K PictureSicario 2: Soldado unleashes hell on Ultra HD Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate's UK disc, despite being an upscaled 4K presentation from a 2K Digital Intermediate. The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.4:1. It uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec.
Sicario 2 looks tremendous.
Ignore the technical specifications, as, in motion, Sicario 2 looks tremendous on this Ultra HD release, revelling in the same spectacular detail that defined the first film, enjoying superior open vistas and gritty setpieces. Clarity is excellent, but there's a welcome texture to the piece (not least in the early, low-res night vision sequences, the quality of which only makes the rest of the film shine even more), with grain never getting out of hand even with HDR in play.
Of course it's the HDR and WCG that make a difference, often not only in terms of the colour scheme - which enjoys richer tones, more stunning sunsets, better realised sun-drenched vistas, and more organically natural skin tones - but actually in terms of the improved shadow detail which laps up the finer nuances resolved against some rich, deep and impenetrable blacks, bringing better clarity to darker sequences and night (or near-night) shots.
Sicario 2 4K SoundThe accompanying Dolby Atmos track, which provides a welcome upgrade in comparison to the Blu-ray counterpart's DTS-HD MA 7.1, is founded upon an already excellent Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core. Much like the first film, Sicario 2: Soldado enjoys a LFE-driven, throbbing score, which doesn't just underpin this audio track - it dominates it.
A great track.
Dialogue is, as usual, afforded precision dissemination across the frontal array, whilst effects enjoy the myriad firearms-driven skirmishes - with thunderous gunshots pounding through vehicles and right into your living room wall, whilst helicopter blades whip overhead and engines growl beneath. The assaults are electric and suitably devastating, whilst the score never lets up in the bass department, providing the perfect accompaniment to the atmospheric piece. It's a great track.
Sicario 2 4K ExtrasThe 4K disc contains nothing, but the accompanying Blu-ray has 3 short Featurettes which offer some background.
Sicario 2 4K VerdictAssuming they make a further film, this one makes a hell of middle chapter.
Sicario 2: Soldado crosses the border onto UK 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate, who afford it excellent video and Atmos-enhanced audio, as well as a few extras which prevent it being a bare bones release. It comes recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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