Also known as: The Wages of Fear (alternative title)
Release Date: June 24th, 1977
Directed by: William Friedkin
Written by: Walon Green
Based on: Le Salaire de la peur by Georges Arnaud
Music by: Tangerine Dream
Cast: Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou, Ramon Bieri, Karl John, Joe Spinell
Film Properties International N.V., Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, 121 Minutes, 92 Minutes (international cut)
“He robbed my church, shot my brother. I don’t care where he is or what it costs. I want his ass.” – Carlo Ricci
Sorcerer is a really interesting movie that follows a group of criminals on the run, strangers to one another, who have to transport gallons of volatile nitroglycerin 200 miles through a South American jungle. Along the way, they have to deal with many threats that make their highly explosive cargo, a death trap that must be protected.
My only real problem with the film is that the mission doesn’t start until you’re about halfway through the picture. That’s fine and the first act is very good but there’s this bit between the multiple prologues and the mission that drags for quite awhile. Once the mission starts, however, things pick back up.
Overall, this is pretty well acted and I thought Roy Scheider did exceptionally well in this and it might be my favorite role of his outside of his two Jaws movies and 2010. The rest of the cast is also good and you even get a small Joe Spinell cameo thrown in.
The story is pretty engaging and this would’ve probably been an incredible film if it didn’t have the pacing issues with the second act. I felt like the actual adventure across the jungle should’ve been a larger part of the story and there is so much more that could’ve been done with that.
Granted, this is also based off of a French novel, so maybe the source material was written the same way, only showcasing the adventure for the second half of the whole story.
That being said, there is also a 92 minute cut of this film and I wonder if that one actually flows better and cuts out some of the duller moments while putting more emphasis on the journey itself.
In the end, I like this movie quite a bit. It definitely needed to pick things up a bit and could’ve used some extra sizzle but it was a worthwhile experience, capped off with a really cool second half.
Pairs well with: other late ’70s adventure and crime pictures.