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Soundtrack review: Sicario: Day of the soldado (Hildur Guonadottir – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Sicario: Day of the soldado (Hildur Guonadottir – 2018)

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“Sicario: Day of the Soldado “(released outside North America as Sicario 2: Soldado or solely Soldado) is an upcoming American action crime thriller film directed by Stefano Sollima and written by Taylor Sheridan. The sequel to the 2015 film Sicario, the film stars Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, who reprise their roles from the first movie along with Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Catherine Keener. The plot follows the drug war at the U.S.-Mexico border as it has escalated to the point where the cartels have begun transporting terrorists, forcing the CIA to team up with ex-hitman Alejandro Gillick.

The first “Sicario” movie was one of the dozen or so movies from the past 10 years that really left a mark with me; it couldn’t have been any other way with Dennis Villeneuve directing. A big part of that visceral and affecting experience was the score; Johan Johannsson wrote a magnificent, pulsating, suffocating, unbearable at times score that was nominated for the Academy Awards and remains a favourite for many. I had nightmares because of “The beast”, the most tense cue from it. It’s time for the sequel now and scheduling conflicts forced Villeneuve to step away. The tragedy of losing Johan Johannsson this year meant that the composer changed as well; Hildur Guonadottir, Johannson’s close collaborator for the past 15 years took over and continued the work and this can mean that the score will not be a steep departure from what I was expecting.

Indeed, the first cue “Attack” places a tennis ball sized lump in my throat within a minute with it’s dense, suffocating percussion based pace. This is the unmistakable “Sicario” sound I know and love: cold, aggressive, as far away from melodic as music can get. Those expecting a comfortable standalone listening experience from this one should put those thoughts to rest because the score is not about comfort, about melodies or themes; it’s only about creating musically an atmosphere that matches that of the movie. Since I am a fan of minimalistic and experimental music, I just revel in a cue like “Miguel takes the money” a quieter, more intense passage that simply raises my pulse.

“The kidnap” is where the score gathers traction and the cue that links the sequel to the original; if you want, this is the proper sequel to “The beast” and even if there’s no tunnel involved this time, claustrophobia grips me tightly. On the other hand there are more peaceful, almost dissolved pieces like “Santa Claus” which evokes a different type of tension as it builds up and finally lets a bit of light come in towards the end, like a few cathartic seconds to make up for all the pain.

“Sicario: Day of the soldado” is a short score, barely longer than half an hour, but intense enough to make its point. It’s sneaky, it’s pulsating and suspenseful, it’s opaque and it’s a texture that even on its own manages to create that almost unbearably tense atmosphere that makes the movie work so well. On top of this the composer brings a warm emotional core in “Alejandro saves Isabelle”, a beautiful cue that will leave a mark. Hildur Guonadottir delivers just what I expected and wished for from this score.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Highlights:
Attack
Miguel Takes Money
Santa Claus
Convoy
Alejandro Saves Isabelle

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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