Sorcerer

Sorcerer ★★★★★

Back in 1977 William Friedkin’s Sorcerer had the misfortune of being released during the quake caused by a little film set in a galaxy far, far away. Thus it was largely unseen, which is a shame because it’s the superior film (sorry Star Wars fans but it’s true)

I consider the premise of Sorcerer and its French original Wages of Fear to be among the best in cinemas history. 4 men are tasked - with the allure of money of course - to drive trucks over 200 miles of rough terrain while carrying fragile explosives. One wrong move and it’s goodbye Roy Scheider. It’s simple yes, but ripe for sustained tension and it would take a terrible film not to make that setup exciting.

Thankfully it’s a terrific film!. Largely down to Friedkin who creates an authenticity to his locations you just don’t see anymore. When the main characters come together in a South American purgatory, he uses stunning establishing shots along with unobtrusive footage of real locals that you begin to feel as if you could be there. He manages to eradicate that barrier between viewer and film, and put you in amongst the rain and sweat of its setting.

All this is well executed, but it shifts into a higher gear once the truck plot drives in.

You don’t necessarily care if the characters survive this mission but you do feel their need to escape and that need heightens with each rock and rickety bridge those steel beasts have to pass over. It’s been a long time since I’ve been truly wowed by a sequence but that aforementioned rickety bridge - my god, it’s shot beautifully with wide lenses and devastatingly real effects work, my heart was working its way up my throat and my jaw was wide open. Stunning stuff Bill, stunning stuff.

Did it deflate a little toward the close? For me it did just a tad. It felt the excitement was too contained in a neat half hour and slowed to a jog for the ending scenes when it should have put its foot on the gas.

Nevertheless, I’m so, so glad I’ve seen this finally and pleased its now beginning to find an audience without a lightsaber or Death Star to destroy it.

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