BLU-RAY REVIEW: SICARIO - DAY OF THE SOLDADO (4K ULTRA HD)
Sicario - Day of the Soldado
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Buy here: 4K Blu-ray (2-Disc Version) from $29.58
PICTURE QUALITY -
SOUND QUALITY -
MOVIE RATING -
Sicario was a happy accident. A blind-buy when I stumbled upon it at my local JB HiFi. The dark, taut thriller by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival and Enemy) was and still is, a five-star movie in my book.
The sequel, Sicario Day of the Soldado, directed by Stefano Sollima, may follow closely regarding story and style; however, it just can’t reach the same heights as Sicario.
Sicario Day of the Soldado picks up after the events of Sicario. After terrorists, who were smuggled across the border by a Mexican Cartel, detonate a bomb in the US, the American government retaliates by declaring cartels as terrorist organisations.
Responding to the new threat, the government enlists the aid of Matt Graver (Josh Brolin). Graver believes the best way to tackle the new danger- without sparking an incident between the US and Mexican governments- is to spark a war between the cartels.
With the help of the enigmatic Alejandro, Graver and his team of operatives (masquerading as rival cartel members) kidnap the daughter of a rival cartel boss. Following a shootout between Graver’s team and corrupt Mexican police officers, the US government terminates the operation, leaving the kidnapped girl to fend for herself.
Alejandro, a former solicitor, whose daughter was murdered by the cartels, takes pity on the girl and tries to smuggle her across the border to safety.
Sicario felt as though it was all tied up rather neatly, with Alejandro exacting revenge upon the cartel leader who murdered his family. In Sicario Day of the Soldado, Alejandro's motivations aren’t as clear.
Denis Villeneuve is a master of his craft, who knows how to draw an audience in. In Sicario he gives you just enough to bring you into the story and creating an unsettling tone to the film.
By exploring the themes of the original in more detail, much of the mystery of Sicario isn’t present in Soldado Day of the Soldado. To some extent, this is unavoidable in a sequel; however, it’s a big part of what made the original tick.
While Day of the Soldado doesn’t reach the same heights as Sicario, it still succeeds as a dark action thriller. The storyline is interesting, and Brolin and Benicio do an excellent job, both of whom are thoroughly convincing in their respective roles.
Sicario Day of the Soldado’s colour palette is dominated by the warm desert tones of the Mexican/ US border. Given the setting, colour is primarily restrained, however, when it is used, it’s to great effect, contrasting sharply against the film’s bleak environments.
Faces are naturally rendered, right down to Catherine Keener’s (Cynthia Fords) scathing remarks on the need for Graver to wear sunscreen.
I viewed both the Blu-ray and UHD versions of the Sicario Day of the Soldado, and despite being sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, sharpness and detail were notably superior in the UHD version. Sharpness did, however, vary, some shots appearing softer than others.
Likewise, Soldado benefits from HDR, the film containing excellent examples of how HDR can ‘open- up’ detail in darker scenes, particularly with scenes that contain a blend of dark and bright material. Alejandro and Isabela’s time at Angel’s (Bruno Bichir) farm offering several good such examples.
Another distinguishing aspect of the film’s BD and UHD transfers is its superb black levels. Despite being solid and deep, black-levels didn’t appear crushed.
The ‘just above black’ information present in the earlier parts of the film provides a great test of the near black-level performance of a display. I strongly suspect many viewers will experience either some crushing or elevated black levels depending on their display type and the EOTF/gamma curve that it uses.
Both the BD and UHD versions of the film were mostly free of picture noise, except for some moire present at 20:27.
The 4K Ultra HD version of Sicario Day of the Soldado features a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, whereas the Blu-ray version is limited to DTS-HD. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is reference quality, with the gunfight scene, in particular, being a standout. While the Dolby Atmos soundtrack has the edge over the DTS-HD soundtrack, it isn’t by much so don’t be worried if your home theatre isn’t ready for Atmos playback.
There’s both plenty of volume and dynamics on tap, without the need to ‘inflate’ your usual listening levels; a problem plaguing Disney releases.
With my combination of VAF Speakers and a Denon AVC-X8500H, I found myself listening at around -12 to -15, which was more than enough in my home theatre.
Gunfire and explosions had plenty of weight keeping my two subs quite busy. Bass was both tight and punchy, never outstaying its welcome. Not all Braun, the soundtrack is especially resolving, chock full of detail.
The soundstage is open and airy, even during the film’s more dialogue driven scenes, the other speakers are still called into play to render environment effects such as desert winds or the buzzing of fluoro lights.
Directionality is also excellent with pans rendered both effectively and realistically. A good demonstration of this can be found in the helicopter fly-over at 8:41.
Sicario Day of the Soldado was reviewed with: Sony VPL-VW270ES 4K Projector, Oppo UDP-203 4k Blu-ray player, Pioneer UDP-LX800 4K Blu-ray player, Denon AVC-X8500H AV Receiver, VAF i91 front and centre speakers, VAF i90 rear speakers and Sonique in-ceiling speakers (5.2.2 speaker configuration).
- Review Format: 4K Ultra HD/ Blu-ray
- Aspect Ratio: 2.39: 1
- Audio: Dolby Atmos
- Genre: Action
- Available Formats: 4K UHD, Blu-ray & DVD
- Rating: MA 15+ (Strong Violence)
- Director: Stefano Sollima
- Actors: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Cynthia Fords
- Label: Roadshow
- Run Time: 122 Minutes
- Release Date: 17/10/2018
As a certified ISF Calibrator, Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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