Denis Villeneuve’s original Sicario pulls a neat trick on the audience, presenting Emily Blunt’s character Kate Macer as a tough and confident FBI agent who is gradually robbed of all agency by Josh Brolin’s cocky CIA manipulator and double-crossed by Benicio Del Toro’s brutal cartel assassin. It’s an action movie where macho dudes do cool action stuff that actually tries to get the audience to question if that cool action stuff is actually good, so naturally Stefano Sollima’s sequel ditched most of the nuance—and Emily Blunt—in favor of the idea that the cool action stuff really was pretty damn cool.
Speaking with Business Insider, Sollima tried to justify his decision to leave Blunt out of Sicario: Day Of The Soldado, explaining that, for as much of an “amazing actress” as she is, her character in the first movie was just as the “moral guidance for the audience.” He says that sort of thing doesn’t fit with his “vision of storytelling,” because he doesn’t like to give audiences that kind of moral compass. As The Wrap notes, writer Taylor Sheridan also said he didn’t want to include Blunt’s character in Soldado, saying that he “couldn’t figure out a way” to do justice to either Blunt or Kate Macer.
Of course, the reason the first movie worked as well as it did was because of Blunt’s character, so being unable to come up with a new story to tell with her could’ve been an indication that a sequel was unnecessary.