SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sorcerer, like Apocalypse Now, is a tale of escalating madness. Yet, the madness is less primal and more fearful, with the result of madness not being the disappearance of your soul but the destruction of your physical body.
Sorcerer tells the story of four men, who in order to get out of their version of hell, accept a job of driving trucks full of nitroglycerin. If this reminds you of The Wages of Fear, then be aware that this is a retelling of Clouzot's film. However, while The Wages of Fear spends too much time before the long and tiring journey, Sorcerer brings us the character development fast and furious; It's an incredible introduction to this journey, both figuratively and literally.
William Friedkin is a master of imagery, and Sorcerer is no different. Just like the dark compositions of The Exorcist or the gritty chaos of The French Connection, Friedkin is on a mission to conjure up images that will stick with you until the end of time. The vast loneliness of the jungle, the slowly-escalating tension, the hysterical tree branches screaming in the wind; Sorcerer won't be leaving your psyche anytime soon.
And yet, Tangerine Dream brings us another heart-pounding and majestic score, only used in minimal amounts to emphasize the danger. In some moments, it sounds like the wondrous soundtrack to Mann's Thief, but mostly it is its own beast.
The characters are flawed and (some) inhumane. Yet it is those flaws that bring their motivations to uncharted territory. In many scenes of unbearable suspense, the audience has no idea what to expect because these respective individuals are so hard to pinpoint. The silence of the film aids in that regard as well, with the quiet and haunting tone of the entire film being so apocalyptic and dreadful in its execution.
All of the performances are uniformly excellent, with Roy Scheider bringing one of his finest performances. The glances exchanged, the long passages of silence, and the stares that reach deep down into the soul are sold by every actor in this film. Really powerful stuff.
As for some negatives, the ending is sinister yet silly, and I could have thought of multiple mind-blowing shots before then to end the film. Now, I'm all for ambiguous endings, but this kinda seemed like a repeat from Friedkin's previous filmography.
Overall, Sorcerer is one of the finest films of William Friedkin. Haunting, classical, tense, and mad; Sorcerer is a riveting journey of lost individuals trying to escape their past sins.