Sorcerer ★★★

Just like The Wages of Fear, Sorcerer opts to spend nearly an hour of its runtime on setup. Probably an easy thing to criticise, and admittedly it's indulgent, but I'd actually argue that it's more effective here. The first act of the 1953 version tried my patience, but this time I felt like the character development had more of an impact on my investment in later events.

When things get rolling, however, the effort to recreate the level of tension present in the original falls short. In Wages I felt as if I was there every painstaking step of the way, gritting my teeth and sweating with the drivers, but Sorcerer makes the fatal mistake of introducing us to the journey via a montage, briskly speeding by the immediate risks and carelessly softening a threat that's meant to be ever-present; it's content to leap ahead in the narrative and focus on the "big" threats. Such threats are terrifying when we come face to face with them in Wages, simply because we've already been convinced that the mundane parts of the journey are a danger all by themselves. As such, the major setpieces of Sorcerer become the baby steps of Wages, and the former is left with nothing to build upon for the rest of the film.

I'll say this: it's well acted and beautifully shot. The last 15 minutes are also some of the best minutes of the film and, for me, trumped the climax of its predecessor easily; but sadly, even this is undercut by a needlessly bleak ending that reeks of unwarranted pessimism.

Sorcerer is a film that's narrowly dodged "masterpiece" status. Some blame this on Star Wars, which may play a part; but I think that it's the mishandling of small, yet pivotal, things that ultimately crippled its potential.

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