Sicario: Day of the Soldado explodes onto screens on June 29. A sequel to the acclaimed Sicario from 2015, the new film reunites Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro as occasional partners Matt Graver and Alejandro Gillick. CIA operative Graver recruits Gillick to stop Mexican drug cartels smuggling terrorists across the border. To accomplish their goal, the pair sets out to incite a war between rival cartels.

One noticeable difference this time is the absence of Emily Blunt, whose character was the lead last time. So this sequel is a very different film, focusing solely on the guys who were antagonists in the first chapter. In fact, Jeffrey Donovan (who plays Steve Forsing in both films) has said that Day of the Soldado isn’t really a sequel, but more of “a stand-alone spinoff.”

Even so, the sequel is deeply connected to its predecessor, and will point to a third film as well.

Continuing Alejandro Gillick’s Story

[Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Beincio del Toro’s Alejandro Gillick was Sicario‘s most alluring character. His questionable actions and bloodthirsty approach hinted at depths of personality that go beyond his violent reputation. In that film, it soon became clear that he wasn’t just on an assignment; he was on a quest for vengeance. In his attempt to avenge the murder of his wife and daughter, Gillick hunted the man responsible, Fausto Alarcón. He ultimately achieved his goal in the closing moments of the film, when he finally came face-to-face with Alarcón.

Even so, his thirst for vengeance continues, and the death of Gillick’s family still haunts him in the sequel. This is evident from the trailer, in which we see him gunning down those he still deems responsible for their murder. Despite his apparent success Sicario, Gillick is still very much driven by revenge.

When given his new mission, however, things take an interesting turn. He kidnaps Isabela Reyes (the daughter of a drug lord) to incite conflict between rival cartels. But when the Mexican government finds out about their plan, Gillick is ordered to kill the girl — and he refuses. This causes conflict between him and Graver and connects to Gillick’s thwarted parental instincts.

Learn From The Past

[Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Gillick’s role as a deadly mercenary makes his new role as a protector all the more interesting. In the past, he never hesitated to kill; even Alarcón’s young family wasn’t safe. So we wonder why he would spare the life of a drug lord’s daughter.

It’s possible that Isabela reminds him of his own daughter. By killing her, he would essentially become what he had been hunting for so long. It’s likely that he will realize there is no justice in killing an innocent girl. Perhaps in doing so, he is atoning for his previous actions, ultimately learning that killing isn’t always the answer. This is another way Gillick is affected by the loss of his family. Not only does he refuse to become the type of killer that he hunted, he also chooses to protect life instead of taking it, no matter the cost.

Whether he’s motivated by loss or wracked with guilt over killing Alarcón’s family, there’s no denying that the past plays a major role in the new film. This won’t be just a standalone action movie. It will further the story that was touched upon in the previous film, adding more depth to Gillick.

These ideas all hint at story points we’ll likely see explored further in the confirmed third film of the trilogy. We can’t detail any more than that now, as even our educated guesses would count as potential spoilers for Day of the Soldado. Regardless, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a unique beast. Audiences new to the series can enjoy this chapter on its own, but connections to the previous film enrich the story.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado hits theaters on June 29.