If you've seen Emily Blunt in Sicario, where she plays a FBI agent recruited for a border-ops mission, you'll know she's a revelation in the movie. And it wasn't just me saying so — publications were united in their effusive praise for Blunt in this role. So why is it a good thing that Blunt isn't in the Sicario sequel, Soldado? This week, Taylor Sheridan, the screenwriter for Sicario and its sequel, opened up to TheWrap about Blunt's absence and his explanation is quite convincing. He said, "That was my decision, and at some point I’m going to have to talk to her about it. Her arc was complete … I couldn’t figure out a way to write a character that would do her talent justice." Sheridan elaborated,
"Look what she went through. It was a difficult role ... I make her completely passive against her own will so the audience feels the same impotence that a lot of law enforcement officers feel, I drag her through hell, and betray her in the end. It was an arduous journey for the character, and for Emily. That character had arc."
The screenwriter went on to say that there's not much that could happen next. He hypothesized, "She moves to some little town and becomes a sheriff and then gets kidnapped and then we have Taken?" Instead, he wanted to stay true to the role and what would "do Emily's character justice." But not all hope is lost, since he said, "There could be room for [Blunt's character] Kate somewhere else down the road.”
This feels like a great move on Sheridan's part. As he says, it doesn't really make sense to have Blunt return for the second movie: He would have to take a formerly smart, nuanced narrative in a completely unrealistic direction simply to shoehorn Blunt in. Presumably this isn't something that would benefit Blunt either — would she really want to perform in such a hackneyed role?
Besides which, it's always a mistake to structure a franchise or series too closely around one actor — if a work is good, people should check it out for the movie or show's own sake and not purely because they're drawn to the star quality of the lead. If that's the case, then you know you've got a problem. Either the story or the pacing isn't strong enough, and as soon as your lead decides to jump ship, you're done for. Just look at the U.S. version of The Office: Steve Carell was great in those seven years he played Michael Scott, but as soon as he left and was replaced by Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, ratings plummeted.
We're living in an age of sequels, and the formula for sequels is often casting continuity. But Sheridan's decision to keep Blunt out of Soldado suggests he's more interested in the integrity of the second movie than he is in profit. And in a time where actors seem to play the same role for an eternity (whether Daniel Craig as Bond or Matt Damon as Jason Bourne), this is seriously refreshing.