Sorcerer

Sorcerer ★★★★

There’s a dark poetry to William Friedkin’s sweeping character study. Four men from different parts of the world. Each on the run from ill-doings in their respective country; the backstories of whom are presented individually, seemingly without relation. You ponder for a while how it all connects, until fate conjoins them in the gritty, corrupted jungle milieus of Nowhere Town, South America. Safe haven for the accusable. A desperate man’s wringing-wet inferno.

It sounds like the premise for a bad joke: A Mexican assassin, a Palestinian terrorist, a fraudulent French banker and an Irish-American gangster walk into a bar… only the joke is on them, as they in want of money and escape from said rat hole sign up for a mission most perilous, transporting not-so-stable nitroglycerin through a devastating density of mud, rain and half-broken bridges.

Wealthy in story, character, atmosphere and originality, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. A fantastic narrative, beautifully shot, that pulls you in deeper and more immersively by the second. Swallowing me whole, as if the ground beneath my feet suddenly collapsed, descending me far down through the helpless abyss of a haunting new definition of Hell on Earth. And yet, so heavenly of a cinematic voyage.

Friedkin had one heck of an artistic streak between 1971-1977. The French Connection (1971), followed by The Exorcist (1973) and then this from -77 as the mind-blowing dessert in a three-course meal of nerve-shattering triumphs. Not until his KFC chicken legs of Killer Joe would anything taste as guiltily delicious again.

Albeit a distinctly singular adventure-thriller piece, there’s a scene in the jungle where I can’t help but think of the grimly comical sequence in Jurassic Park where Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) arrives at a destiny-heavy fork in the road. One way leading to the harbor. The other to a failed game of fetch with a deceptively cute Dilophosaurus.

“Ah ah ah, you should have taken the other road. Ah ah ah!”

Sorcerer is, quite literally, a dynamite movie. One whose existence came to my attention as late as this very month. Therefore, I will conclude this review with a big, appreciative thank you to Letterboxd’s own critic extraordinaire, Gustav. I owe you one buddy for making me aware of and prompting me to see this astonishing film :)

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