How Sicario: Day of the Soldado Sets Up Sicario 3

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WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, in theaters now.

The 2015 crime thriller Sicario told a gripping story about the U.S. government taking the fight to Mexican cartels. It didn’t seem like an obvious candidate for a sequel, as the ending tied up the plot rather well. So, when it was announced there would be a follow-up, but that star Emily Blunt and director Denis Villeneuve wouldn't return, some may have assumed it was a studio cash grab. However, three key players — co-stars Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro and writer Taylor Sheridan — are back for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, and with the organized crime expertise of Italian director Stefano Sollima (Gomorrah), they have produced a worthy second chapter in the franchise. The question now is, where does the story of Agent Graver and his sicario partner Alejandro go from here?

RELATED: Is Sicario: Day of the Soldado a Sequel Or ... a Prequel?

In the critically acclaimed original Kate Macer (Blunt) was recruited by Matt Graver (Brolin) to help fight the war on drugs across the Mexican border. By the end, she realizes she has been used to illegally infiltrate another country. In Day of the Soldado, it's unclear how much time has elapsed, but Graver has been pulled back from operations in Africa to once again take it to the Mexican cartels. Instead of cocaine, these criminal enterprises are now focused on human trafficking. Further, they have begun to run foreign terrorists across the U.S. border. Graver comes up with a plan to ignite a war between the two most powerful clans, Reyes and Matamoros, by kidnapping Carlos Reyes’ teenage daughter and blaming it on the Matamoros family. The point being, to locate the heads of the Reyes cartel.

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By the end of the film everything has gone sideways and Graver has been told to completely “clean” the situation -- that is, eliminate every loose end, in no uncertain terms. In this case, that includes Alejandro (Del Toro) and the abducted Isabel Reyes (Isabela Moner). When Graver believes Alejandro has been murdered by coyotes, he refuses to kill the girl he had been protecting. He tells his second-in-command that she can go into witness-protection when Agent Forsing questions the choice. Despite that, it's not actually the end of Alejandro’s story, as the bullet went through his face cleanly, and he survives. The former lawyer tracks down the wannabe sicario ("hitman") that tried to kill him, and that’s where the movie ends. We don’t see if he kills the teenage gangster or not.

RELATED: Sicario: Day of the Soldado's Ending, Explained

If Day of the Soldado performs well enough at the box office, it's certainly possible there will be a third film that delves into Alejandro seeking revenge against Graver and those who gave the order to kill him. And because there was so much focus placed on Isabel and the young coyote who shoots Alejandro, it's very likely those characters would play into the plot. While it’s possible Alejandro executes the tattooed coyote, there’s a chance he takes him under wing, as the film finishes with the cold-blooded widower saying, “So you want to be a sicario?”

In theaters now, director Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado stars Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Jeffrey Donovan reprising their roles, with Isabela Moner, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Catherine Keener.

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