It’s been a big week for Taylor Sheridan: His directorial debut, Wind River, just premiered at Sundance, and his screenplay for the western crime drama Hell or High Water received an Oscar nomination. Up next, Sheridan is returning to the world of Sicario with Soldado, a follow-up to Denis Villeneuve’s nerve-wracking 2015 thriller with Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin reprising their roles as dubious (to put it mildly) government agents. Plot details for Soldado have thus far been scarce, but Sheridan has finally shed some light on what Del Toro and Brolin’s characters will be up to in the new film.

Following the premiere of Wind River at Sundance, Collider spoke with the screenwriter and recent director about his next big project, Soldado. Sicario was an effectively intense standalone film that didn’t necessarily set itself up for a sequel, but Sheridan came up with a solid idea when he focused on the morally bankrupt characters played by Del Toro and Brolin:

And then I had an idea, and I said, ‘Look you can’t really do a sequel, but I sure would love to see what happened if these guys didn’t have a chaperone.’ Because basically they’re operating within the United States, so I played with some actual laws that exist and found a way that they could operate more or less legally within the U.S. But they had a chaperone. What happens if they weren’t in the U.S. and they didn’t have a chaperone? How bad or good would that work out? You’ve seen Sicario, good isn’t going to factor into it too much.

So far, Soldado sounds more bleak than Sicario — which is an impressive feat. Sheridan went on to say that if the first film is “about the militarization of police and that blending over, [Soldado] is removing the policing aspect from it.” That’s somewhat timely, and Sheridan knows it:

Unfortunately there is still much to mine in this world and explore creatively. People are gonna think I have a crystal ball—I don’t—but the current political activities are oddly timely to what Soldado confronts.

Collider has more from Sheridan, who also teased a potential third film — but first we’ll have to see how Soldado resonates with audiences. The sequel, which does not currently have a release date, is being helmed by Stefano Sollima and co-stars Catherine Keener, Jeffrey Donovan and Matthew Modine.

More From ScreenCrush