Ben Hibburd’s review published on Letterboxd:
I really liked "The Wages of Fear" a lot, so I've been apprehensive about watching this film. I've had the 40th anniversary blu ray lined up on my shelf for almost a year since I got it for my last Birthday. However, it seems that my fears were unfounded because William Friedkin's "Sorcerer" is equal to Henri-Georges Clouzot's classic, and in some areas it surpasses it.
For the most part "Sorcerer" follows a similar structure to "The Wages of Fear". The set-up: Four men from across the globe are running away from their lives, one is a getaway driver played by Roy Scheider, another is a banker who's been caught embezzling, there's a Palestinian militant and finally a shaddy hitman. The film opens up with their backstories, cycling through them one by one. Where-as "The Wages of Fear" spent the majority of its first hour in the small, derelict South American jungle village, "Sorcerer" spends a large amount of time giving backstories to its four central characters, giving them reasons as to why they're there.
It's not the biggest change in the world, and whilst the original gave its characters a bit more mystery as to their motivations, this film gives us a chance to connect with the characters even if they aren't particularly sympathetic.
Still, this is just the starter before the main course. What I liked about this version was the pacing felt a bit more fluid, the original took an eternity before the characters set off on their odyssey.
Shit hits the fan as the characters are tasked with transporting volatile nitroglycerin 200 miles across jungle terrain. The reward: 10 grand each and a ticket home which provides an enticing proposition, even if the odds are in favour of them exploding before they reach their destination.
The second half of "Sorcerer" is fucking insane. Everything I'd been told about this film came true, it's a stripped back, bare knuckle foray into pure unadulterated tension. THAT bridge scene, I honestly don't know how they filmed that, it was one of the best set pieces in any film I've seen, I won't say too much in case anyone that's reading this hasn't seen the film, but needless to say, just go and watch this film!
The restored blu-ray looks absolutely incredible, "Sorcerer" is a gorgeous film to look at, the jungle scenery pops with its vibrant colours which is excellently juxtaposed against the filthy, grime ridden characters, excellently highlighting the battle between man and nature. Add in Tangerine Dreams atmospheric, eerie synth score and this film becomes a beast onto itself. Friedkin takes a classic and infuses it with the grim, naturalistic nihilism that's synonymous with 70's filmmaking.
It's a shame this film bombed at the box office, any film coming out the same time as "Star Wars" was unfortunate and this film has taken a long, rocky road (kinda fitting) breaking into the mainstream, but this film has been getting its due in recent years, and that's what matters. I feel kinda silly for sitting on this film for so long, it's a near masterpiece, I highly recommend everyone to check this film out!