Sorcerer ★★★★

It seems like all the big name directors of the New Hollywood era had to make at least one audacious big-budget film that flopped and William Friedkin was no different. He no doubt used the clout he'd gained from the massive success of his previous two films to reinterpret The Wages of Fear, adding his own intense and forebodding touches to proceedings. He uses the central premise to explore the fragility of humanity and the inability to escape whatever fate has in store for you. The four main characters lead shady lives and come from all corners of the globe, but when they are operating those trucks full of nitroglycerin they're teetering on the edge of death together. It only takes a single moment for life to end and survival is only a possibility if they cooperate.

The only real issue with the film is that it takes a long time to get going and I don't think we learn enough about the characters to justify the amount of time we spend waiting for the main journey to take place. That said, it does mean the entire second half can be dedicated to constructing something firecely fervent. Friedkin is very good at producing a disorientating mood that captures the wild headspace of the characters as they dodge destruction at every corner. His camerawork is dynamic, he contrasts the lush arcane jungle with the danger of the situation well and he uses the eerie hypnotic score by Tangerine Dream to effectively convey a sense of dread. Natural ambience is also used brilliantly throughout, at times the howl of the wind and rain is more akin to a choir of death luring the characters to their doom.

There is some really memorable stuff here, from the jaw-dropping bridge crossing sequence (a masterclass in stunt work and sustaining tension) to the image of Roy Scheider stumbling out of the engulfing darkness to an explosion of hellish flame to the truly bleak ending that ties into the films belief that you can't run from your fate.

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