The Denis Villeneuve crime-thriller Sicario might have been absent from some filmgoers' radars until its release, but it went on to become one of the most critically-acclaimed films of 2015. Made on a budget of roughly $30 million, the story centers on Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an idealistic FBI agent recruited to work on an anti-cartel task force alongside her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya), under the command of the mysterious Matt Graver (Josh Brolin). Given the task of bringing down the leader of a powerful and brutal Mexican drug cartel, Macer and her team are quickly thrown into the middle of a dangerous war on drugs in the city of Juárez.
Among other accolades, the film received three Academy Award nominations (Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Sound Editing), further highlighting some of Sicario’s strengths. Consequently, Lionsgate commissioned a sequel – titled Soldado (the Spanish word for soldier) – centering on Matt’s enigmatic partner, Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro). And while many had hoped that Villenueve would return to direct the sequel, it now appears that his busy schedule (namely, directing Blade Runner 2) has taken him away from the project.
Following on from Villeneuve's departure, Jeremy Saulnier (Green Room) became the frontrunner to land the Soldado gig, but he too couldn’t make the dates work in accordance with the film’s fall production schedule. Now the latest reports (via THR) suggest that Stefano Sollima is currently in talks to take the director’s chair for the follow-up, based on a script by Taylor Sheridan (who also penned Sicario).
Sollima has directed a number of memorably gritty crime thrillers, but is best known for his work on the Italian miniseries Gomorrah, along with his big screen debut, A.C.A.B., and the neo-noir film adaptation of Suburra, financed by Netflix. In addition to this slight shake-up behind the camera, Emily Blunt’s recent decision to take on the role of Mary Poppins in Disney’s forthcoming sequel Mary Poppins Returns has officially rendered her unavailable, consigning Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin to shared lead duties.
These developments might unnerve fans of the first installment, especially in regards to the directorial change. In particular, Villeneuve received commendation for his unique style, through which he incorporated his own distinct flare while capturing iconographic imagery - in collaboration with legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. Moreover, Blunt was praised for her performance alongside Del Toro, as the pair dovetailed each other wonderfully throughout.
However, Sollima has plenty of experience with the crime-thriller genre, proving his ability to handle fast-paced dramatic storylines with emotive content, which can certainly make for a powerful cinematic experience. Furthermore, Soldado’s storyline is focusing on a different character - the dark and mysterious Alejandro - so it could also be argued that the sequel will suit a slightly different tone compared to its predecessor. Regardless of your position on the latest news, serious dramas like Sicario are rarely given the sequel treatment, so that is a promising sign in itself.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on all of the latest developments on Soldado as they become available.