Grantland - "Are My Methods Unsound? Why ‘Sicario’ Is the ‘Apocalypse Now’ of the Drug War"
By Chris Ryan
"Visually, Sicario is similar to Apocalypse Now in that it uses a modern setting to paint a portrait of hell. When Sicario begins, it’s all stark suburban desert-scapes and harsh light — the sun, overhead fluorescents in office buildings. But as the film winds on, and the moral decay sets in as our hero becomes corrupted, cinematographer Roger Deakins and director Denis Villeneuve move to a palette of grays, oranges, reds, and purples. The desert becomes almost lunar; the world becomes otherworldly.
The visuals match the arc of the story. This is a rabbit hole tale. Sicario is about an FBI agent who joins up with two other … agents (I use that term loosely) to hunt down a shadowy cartel chief in Mexico. That’s the logline for the script. It is hardly what the movie is about.
It’s a movie about the drug war, not the war on drugs. This may not be immediately apparent to the viewer; it certainly isn’t to some of the characters in the film. In fact, it’s this discovery — for both the protagonist and the audience — that drives the film: This is a movie about revealing, about journeying into hell and finding out that it looks awfully familiar."