×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ Director on Violence, Illegal Immigration and Why He Won’t Be Back for Part 3

Stefano Sollima knows what he’s going to be doing this Friday. The Italian director has already bought a ticket to “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” so he can experience the film’s opening weekend with a live audience. “I want to see the reaction for myself,” said Sollima.

He’s not going as an unbiased observer. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is Sollima’s English-language film debut and his first major studio feature. It’s an unlikely project, a follow-up to a film, 2015’s “Sicario,” that was critically acclaimed, but only a modest box office performer, grossing $84.9 million globally. The unblinking look at Mexican drug cartels seemed to wrap up its plot threads neatly, so it wasn’t clear why there needed to be a follow-up. Even Sollima had doubts about taking over the director’s chair from Denis Villeneuve.

“I knew it was a bit cheeky,” he said. “I knew the audience would wonder why we were doing a sequel to such a beautiful movie, but I felt the idea was so original. We weren’t making a franchise, but more of a saga. We’re exploring this world with different points of view.”

“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” brings back original stars Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin as a brutally efficient hitman and a boundary-pushing dark opps agent, respectively. Emily Blunt, whose newbie FBI agent served as the moral compass of the first film, did not return. The film finds Del Toro’s Alejandro Gillick trying to set off a war between the cartels by kidnapping the daughter (Isabela Moner) of a leading drug dealer. It burrows more deeply into Alejandro’s backstory, humanizing him and revealing more about why he decided to become a killer-for-hire.

“This is a gritty movie where everything is put in front of you without any filter or without being gentle about anything,” said Sollima. “This is like those movies from the ’70s that studios stopped making.”

It’s also an extremely violent film, one with a body count that’s been a topic of conversation on social media from preview audiences and critics. In the film, a mother and a young child are blown up, a character is shot in the face, and government agents and drug dealers routinely get eviscerated by semi-automatic weapons. In each instance, Sollima’s camera lingers on the bloody carnage. It can be a difficult sit, but Sollima argues that’s the point.

“The violence is a part of the world you’re portraying,” he said. “It would be absurd not to have the violence be graphic. You need to immerse the audience in what’s going on and the violence helps with that.”

“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” was conceived over a year ago, but its focus on border crime and its portrait of illegal immigrants desperately trying to cross over to a better life in the Unites States has eerie parallels with our current politics. The film is opening at a time when President Donald Trump’s family separation policies and calls for a border wall have focused new attention on the world that “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” depicts.

“It’s a topic that’s right there in front of us and is not going away,” said Sollima. “It’s something about being human — this need to go to a better place or to find a better life in another society. Our film is meant to be entertaining, but also should raise smart questions.”

Sollima talked to Variety while he was deep into the production of “Zero Zero Zero,” a television adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s look at the cocaine trade. Sollima previously worked on the small screen version of Saviano’s “Gomorrah,” an examination of organized crime in Italy.

“We created a completely new story for ‘Zero Zero Zero’ based on the soul of the book,” he said. “It takes on globalization by following one of the most special kinds of merchandise there is, cocaine. We trace its point of origin in South America to its destination in Italy and explore trafficking and money laundering and other things that are impacting all these economies and all these people.”

“Zero Zero Zero” finds Sollima once again mining bleak terrain, looking at both the big profits to be made from illegal drugs, and the human cost associated with the business. But despite that abiding interest in the criminal elements, Sollima doesn’t want to return for “Sicario 3” if a new film gets made.

“Every movie in these series needs to be a standalone that stays in the same world,” said Sollima. “I’d love to watch another chapter of ‘Sicario,’ but it should be from a different director who has their own specific style. You shouldn’t have more than one film from the same director. Then it would be too much like a real franchise.”

More Film

  • Mammoth Films Festival to Open With

    'In Fabric' to Open Mammoth Lakes Film Festival

    Director Peter Strickland’s “In Fabric” starring “Game of Thrones” star Gwendoline Christie is set to open the fifth Mammoth Lakes Film Festival, the organization has announced today along with their film lineup. The festival in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., will take place May 22-26 and feature several films’ U.S. debuts. In addition to the narrative feature [...]

  • Kristen Stewart'JT LeRoy' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Kristen Stewart: 'Charlie's Angels' Reboot Is 'Woke' but Still 'Funny and Weird'

    “Charlie’s Angels” has made the jump to 2019. Kristen Stewart, who stars in the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot as one of the Angels, says the classic ’70s franchise has been updated to modern times without losing its pulpy action. “At one point I think we said it was woke and grounded, and everyone was like, ‘Wait, [...]

  • Calamity Jane

    Indie Sales Acquires Remi Chayé's Female-Driven Animated Feature 'Calamity' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paris-based company Indie Sales (“My Life as a Zucchini”) has acquired Rémi Chayé’s animated film “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” the French helmer’s follow up to his critically acclaimed feature debut “Long Way North.” “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” tells the story of the 12-year-old Martha Jane who must [...]

  • Scarlett Johansson on 2020 Election, Avengers

    Scarlett Johansson on Running for Office: 'Maybe at Some Point'

    President Scarlett Johansson, anyone? While she may not be running for office at the moment, Johansson says a campaign may be in her future. “Maybe some time in the future,” she says when asked if her political activism has inspired her own aspirations. “I think the greatest way to effect change is in local politics. [...]

  • Circus of Books

    Netflix Acquires Tribeca Doc 'Circus of Books,' Exec Produced by Ryan Murphy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to the documentary “Circus of Books” ahead of its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Rachel Mason wrote and directed the pic, and also produced it along with Kathryn Robson, Cynthia Childs, Camilla Hall and Adam Baron. Ryan Murphy, Josh Braun, John Battsek, Rhianon Jones and Gerald Herman executive produced. [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

  • Jennifer Kaytin Robinson Someone Great

    'Someone Great' Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson on Reimagining the Rom-Com

    Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, creator of the MTV series “Sweet/Vicious,” recently made her feature debut with “Someone Great,”  now streaming on Netflix. The film follows three friends as they navigate relationships and work in New York City.  Here, the writer-director opens up on reimagining the rom-com, and women changing the face of Hollywood. The three young [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content