Top positive review
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A stylish, intimate remake of a French Classic
on December 15, 2003
William Friedkin (The French Connection) brings us exotic locations and gripping story in Sorcerer, a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1953 thriller Wages of Fear.
The first hour of this movie seems to be comprised of random events involving four individuals that have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The only commonality is that they are all men of dubious character. Probably the most recognizable actor in this film is Roy Schieder, who plays a low level New York gangster participate in a robbery that goes bad, and forces him to flee the country due to the fact he managed to step on some pretty well connected toes. The second man, a French businessman, escapes from the threat of prosecution due to some shady business dealings. The third man, a Middle Eastern terrorist flees his captors after being caught participating in a bombing, and the fourth man is a shady assassin type apparently on the run from repercussion from his last hit.
The key is all four men end up in a South American rat-infested stink hole of a town called Vera Cruz. After awhile, they find their sanctuary has become more of a prison and all begin a desperate search for a way out, but that involves money, a commodity that's in short supply, with the only work available in the area is provided by an oil company that runs a well and is building a pipeline for the bubbling crude. Dangerous work, and the pay is so low that it would take years to earn enough to leave. Salvation for the men comes in a catastrophic disaster, an explosion damaging the well and causing the oil to burn.
The only way to close the well proper for repairs is to blow it up, and the only explosives available are 200 miles away. Turns out the explosives, sticks of nitro, haven't been tended very well, and, in turn, are highly unstable. The company decides to hire four men to drive two trucks to carry the dangerous materials through 200 miles of dangerous jungle, including prehistoric rope and wood bridges, treacherous mountain passes, deadly bandits and swampy roads laden with fallen trees. The suicide mission draws the four men, as the money would allow them to escape the oppressive town. The most intense scenes for me involved the men trying to traverse a rickety, rotting wooden rope suspension bridge over a raging river during a heavy rainstorm. There were times when the truck on the bridge was at such an angle, I thought it would flip right off. And all the actors performed most all their own stunts, adding to the realism of the movie. Do they make it? See the movie and find out. I especially liked the very end. A very nice touch that reminded me of an ending of a certain Alfred Hitchcock movie. Which one? I won't say, as it would give it away.
The movie runs just under two hours, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Friedkin and the actors do a wonderful job in developing tensions between the characters and the environment and the between the characters themselves. The pacing is a bit slow, but it's deliberate, cranking the suspense up, notch by grueling notch.
There are sparse special features, including pretty thorough productions notes and a trailer. If you enjoy thrilling adventure, you will most likely like this movie. I would have happily given this movie five stars but it is only available in the full screen format. Something I didn't understand is the title for the movie. I wasn't able to figure out what it had to do with the movie....