Sorcerer ★★★★½

WANTED. Four men willing to drive a cargo of death to escape a life in hell.

I have long dreamt of gazing on this film since Quentin Tarantino nominated as one of his very favourites, yet its lack of availability had always been a roadblock. Knowing of its connection to one of my other favourite films; Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear, I was as equally hesitant about a remake as I was excited for some possible Friedkin gold following two classics in The French Connection and The Exorcist. With both films beginning quite differently, Friedkin rejects the notion of it being a remake but more another adaptation of Georges Arnaud's source novel with his own additions. Friedkin also favours it over all his films commenting that it was the most personal and difficult film he ever made.

From the get-go we are launched into four separate vignettes which form the back-stories of the major players the film will focus on later. From different corners of the globe four men will all end up escaping from their situations at home to end up a poverty-stricken town in South America. Money is scarce, and the only chance any of them have to escape their plight is to take a job for a local oil magnate in transporting highly explosive crates of nitroglycerin through the thick jungle by trucks. The mission is deadly and paves the way for some incredible sequences involving the two trucks navigating jaw-dropping obstacles, including traversing that bridge featured on the film's poster. 

Roy Scheider, hot off Jaws and Marathon Man is perfectly cast as a man in existential crisis whilst French native Bruno Cremer takes on some of the secondary focus as a lead character. The sheer tension that exists in The Wages of Fear, also translates in Friedkin's version and boy does it make for a sweaty and teeth clenching viewing experience, with plenty of ''How the fuck did that do THAT?'' moments.

Initially a bomb upon release because another film that shall remain nameless opened at the same time in 1977, changing the zeitgeist and leaving no survivors in its  wake, Sorcerer has thankfully gone on to find a life as a film 'to be seen', and with the recent high definition restoration, it looks like it hasn't aged a day in its new pristine transfer. 

Every ingredient required for the ultimate action/adventure drama exists in this film, with some existential thematic resonance sprinkled on top for good measure (and we mustn't forget the Tangerine Dream score), and I am now on a mission to revisit The Wages of Fear again to see which is actually the better film, but if Sorcerer isn't, it's damn close...

Rod liked these reviews