Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 thriller “Sicario” marked the fourth collaboration between Josh Brolin and Roger Deakins after back-to-back 2007 releases “In the Valley of Elah” and “No Country for Old Men,” and 2010’s “True Grit,” but only Brolin returned for the 2018 sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” Deakins and Villeneuve skipped the follow-up project and were replaced by Dariusz Wolski and Stefano Sollima, respectively. “Soldado” received less favorable reviews than “Sicario” and ended its run nearly $10 million below the box office gross of the original ($84.9 million vs. $75.9 million). Critics and fans agree “Sicario” is the superior film, and it turns out so do Brolin and Deakins.
On this week’s episode of the “Team Deakins” podcast, Brolin and Deakins compare the two “Sicario” films and agree that Villeneuve’s more character-driven approach makes for a more impactful thriller than Sollima’s more action-driven style. Not to say there’s anything wrong with Sollima’s entry. Brolin and Deakins praise Sollima’s skills as an action director, but there’s no denying “Soldado” just can’t compete with “Sicario.”
“Stefano Sillima did the second one. For what it is, and I would say this to Stefano’s face, it’s a bigger scope and more action, for what it is it’s wonderful,” Brolin said.”But there’s something really special about ‘Sicario,’ there’s something quieter and there’s something a little more intelligent in how it unravels.”
Deakins continued, “‘Sicario 2,’ it shows that it was big and the action sequences were amazing. I thought it was incredibly well shot, but it lacked that personality that ‘Sicario’ had. The strongest scene in all of ‘Sicario’ is the end in the kitchen where it’s just Benicio [del Toro] and Emily [Blunt] and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is so intense.’ You don’t necessarily need all that [big action].”
“Different strokes, different folks,” Brolin responded. “It’s not a negative with Stefano. He did something called [‘Zero Zero Zero’] and it was along those same lines. It was big, it was very dramatic, but it wasn’t as, like with ‘Sicario’ [and ”Soldado”], as specific in its behavioral choices…It’s a behavioral choice tonally, in camera placement, in lens choice, how subtle you can be. That’s the difference, with ‘Soldado’ you’re going ‘wow, wow’ and with ‘Sicario’ you are leaning further into it and you’re going to get slapped but you can’t help it, and you know it.”
While Brolin and Deakins would not work together on the “Sicario” sequel, they did team up again in 2016 for “Hail, Caesar!” Visit the “Team Deakins” podcast to hear Brolin’s full interview.