It's been damn near impossible to consume any form of media in the United States without finding some political message about the US's 2,000 mile-long border with Mexico. One side (which included former first ladies and other Republicans) was decrying the federal policy of separating migrant families after they crossed from the southern border and the other side saying, "Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes. No more get out of jail free cards."

Alas, the popular shouting matches did not allow for much in the way of nuance in the debate. Such was also the case with the latest fictional flick about the border, Taylor Sheridan's sequel to 2015's massively-successful thriller which operated as gritty, modern retake of the western, Sicario : Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

"Sicario" as a term has a history that viewers and fans of both films would find interesting. The most direct translation to English is "hitman" but the term actually comes from the Latin "sicarii" or "dagger men".

The sicarii were a group of Jewish zealots who violently opposed the rule of the Romans after Judea was absorbed into the Empire circa 63 BCE. The preferred method of the sicarii was public assassination – they often would move through crowds at Roman civic and religious gatherings using small daggers kept in their cloaks to go for the jugular on prominent Romans, then melding back into the crowds. It is because of the political action of the sicarii that many historians of the ancient world consider them the first terrorist group in human history.

Getting into the films, where Sicario was a scalpel in terms of how it used violence and tension in the story, Soldado was a broad sword – more cumbersome, awkward, and testosterone-fueled. That said, it wasn't a bad movie... it just wasn't as intelligently handled as the first Sicario.

While some reviewers decried Soldado as being this way out of racism and xenophobia toward Latinos – decrying audience members who allegedly clapped when Mexican federales were “murdered” by Benicio del Toro's Alejandro and Josh Brolin's otherwise sadistic USA federal government charge Matt Graver (both men resurrect their characters in fine fashion), this is an out and out lie by omission on the part of the reviewer. The only part they could possibly be talking about in the film is when elite units of the Mexican Federal Police who were escorting Alejandro and Graver through the Mexican desert turn their machine guns to the convoy the two men are traveling in and a gunfight ensues – this was not "murder" in the film, to call it such willfully misrepresents the scene and lies to you the reader by a reckless use of hyperbole to describe a scene which is clearly self defense. Corruption among the Federal Police has also been a long-standing problem that Mexico is still struggling every year to fight – with many sources saying the problem is worsening.

Many of these same reviewers were essentially saying that the film was nothing but a violent fantasy for Trump voters. Yes, it was violent. But the second part of that assumes a political agenda on the part of the film – when, in fact, the film's advertising during the height of the border family separation crisis under Trump proves there was none. The film neither removed nor ramped-up the advertising they ran during the height of the crisis, much of which could have been taken to advocate a particular position, if you look at it out of the film's context.

No, Soldado was cumbersome and free of nuance for a whole other reason entirely: the absence of Emily Blunt's character Kate Macer from the first film. Macer largely acted as the conscience-driven foil to the volatile Graver and mercurial Alejandro. What exactly do these reviewers expect when you in essence remove the character who acted as the brake pedal from the vehicle that is the Sicario saga?

Soldado gets in to a hypothetical scenario where cartels and the human trafficking coyotes in their employ forge a relationship with jihadists to smuggle them over the border to raise hell in the United States. After a suicide bombing in a Kansas City grocery store, Graver is tasked with creating a war between the rival cartels and narcotraficantes in Mexico to try and bring them down, which he enlists Alejandro to help him with.

This being a movie, the ideas here are really untenable, but that doesn't distract from the fact that Taylor Sheridan, as always, has a gift for creating tension in what he writes. The only problem is, again, the tension in Soldado comes off as big, bulky, unwieldy and uncontrolled. It's entertaining sure but it doesn't make you think in the way the first film's use of tension did – particularly in the penultimate revenge scene of Alejandro on the cartel leader's family which ended the first film.

The second reason for the unwieldy tension in Soldado after the absence of the Macer character is undoubtedly the new director Stefano Sollima, who's more bull in a china shop approach to the on-going saga of Alejandro and Graver really couldn't stand in greater opposition to the razor walk, slow burn of Denis Villeneuve's approach in the first film.

Is Sollima's approach inferior to Villeneuve's? Not necessarily. Just if your tastes tend to run to a movie that uses tension, violence and action to make you think while also keeping you entertained (the way mine do), you will enjoy the first Sicario more than Soldado. There in again, this also gets back to Macer's absence and the nature of Soldado's story being more geared to Sollima's bombastic approach. The tag-line after all is, "no rules this time."

Final verdict on Soldado? Is it worth a watch? Yes, but don't expect a think piece or in depth psychoanalytical character study served up with your action and gun fights this time. Also, don't be fooled by any self-righteous political hand-wringing you may read about the film. Soldado is blunt, straight-up, big and cumbersome action that certainly entertains but doesn't really make any statements, political or otherwise – but, then again, it really doesn't have to.