Roy Scheider lends his intense talent to this taut action-adventure from director William Friedkin. Set on the edge of a South American jungle, a desperate four-man team, led by Scheider, must transport a volatile cargo of nitroglycerine over 200 miles of treacherous terrain in order to stop a potentially disastrous oil fire. Enter into this potentially explosive mix of split-second strategy and jolting suspense set against an outstanding score by Tangerine Dream.
Following the blockbuster success of The Exorcist
, director William Friedkin had the clout to make any film he wanted, and he nearly ruined his career making Sorcerer
, an ill-fated remake of the classic French thriller The Wages of Fear
. Given the big-budget treatment that Friedkin could command, the original plot remains unchanged: In an unnamed Latin American country, Roy Scheider leads a group of four fugitives who will earn their freedom if they can successfully transport truckloads of volatile nitroglycerine over treacherous terrain to extinguish a raging oil fire. The unstable explosives could prove deadly at any point of the journey, and numerous obstacles threaten the completion of the mission. Produced under rugged conditions in the jungles of the Dominican Republic, the film is visually impressive and contains intense moments of astonishing suspense, but the specter of the superior French version hangs over every scene. This version remains a folly of directorial ambition run amuck, but for the very same reason Sorcerer
is a film that's hauntingly unforgettable, fueled by an atmosphere of dread and the forceful powers of nature. Presented in full-screen format on DVD, the film is aided immeasurably by Tangerine Dream's eerie electronic score. --Jeff Shannon