Sorcerer - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sorcerer Reviews

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½ September 13, 2016
They have nothing to lose. They're respectable crooks, sure, but a pay day is a pay day and this is an offer they'd be wise not to refuse. The job individually presented to them involves the transportation of highly sensitive nitroglycerin. Lots of it, in fact. The transportation of that said lots, unfortunately, is through the treacherous terrains of the mountains and jungles of rural South America. It's a surefire suicide mission, considering the "road" to the final destination is unapologetically paved alongside unforgiving (and unprotected) cliffs, is shamefully dependent on almost comedically rotting bridges hanging over troubled waters, and is unafraid to travel through tangles of trees and roots better to be left untamed than fought. But the fee to deliver the goods is a tempting combination of legal citizenship and an additional monetary reward somewhere upward of $10,000 - a bargain - and the men willing to put their lives at risk for a good payout are at too low of points in their life to decline.
They are Jackie (Roy Scheider), an American delinquent caught at the tail end of a robbery he severely botches, Victor (Bruno Cremer), a corrupted French entrepreneur whose most recent financial scheme has driven his business partner to suicide, Kassem (Amidou), a young Arabic terrorist living the aftermath of an escape from captivity, and Nilo (Francisco Rabal), a career criminal with a mean streak. Personalities clash instantaneously, as expected. But as these men are forced to fight through the hell that is the South American landscape, respect becomes mutual and making it to the end of the road turns into a mission so pivotal they'd rather die than go back.
Originally formulated as a side project for William Friedkin, then still a hot Hollywood commodity after the unparalleled success of 1973's "The Exorcist," "Sorcerer," in itself an adaptation of George Arnaud's "Le Salaire de la peur," was a critical and commercial disappointment upon release in 1977. Whether its inability to find a welcoming audience in the year of its theatrical run was due to high expectations on the part of Friedkin or the coinciding culture redefiner that was "Star Wars" remains to be debatable, but warped is the perception surrounding it. Some thirty-nine years ago, it was a flop. But come 2016, a wide majority considers it to be a lost masterpiece deserving of rediscovery, a forgotten classic to be remembered.
It is a challenging film, a psychological exploration of the limits of physical and mental endurance and a spirit dampener in its firm belief that the hands of fate are near sociopathic in how and what they throw at their victims of circumstance and bad karma. And yet I'm convinced that it's Friedkin's magnum opus. It's a grand statement of artistic maximalism and boundary pushing thematics that at once make it intellectually dense and effortlessly thrilling.
The building up to the climax that is its entire last act is perhaps punishingly understated - we'd swear we were in the midst of a cryptic character study if we weren't so certain that cathartic release weren't also waiting in the wings - but once the journey begins and this band of morally ambivalent outsiders push themselves to the perimeters of their stamina, "Sorcerer" proves itself to not just be great filmmaking. It also boasts the all-too-rare luster that penetrates the patina of such epics as "Ben-Hur" and "War and Peace." Stendhal Syndrome inducing greatness inflames our senses; this is How Did They Make This filmmaking of the finest degree.
And watching these actors cogently portray men pushed to their unique brinks - made all the more harrowing as a result of Friedkin's throwing a vast amount of varying extremes at them - is as electrifying as the latter's overarching vision of cinematic torment. Scheider is very much in the same vein as Humphrey Bogart in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" - a grizzly anti-hero inherently bad yet somehow offhandedly charismatic. Rabal is a frightening villain to be turned into a pathetic figure of destiny, Cremer is a scoundrel never given the chance to redeem himself, and Amidou is a weasel that seems to mature decades as he goes through the motions of thorough physiological horror.
But perhaps we age decades during the watching of "Sorcerer," too: this is a film that decidedly figures that we live in a world that would rather watch us suffer than prosper, and Friedkin's daring delivery of that notion through existential despair and surprisingly accessible suspense is riveting. "Sorcerer" is a movie still desperately searching for an audience, but for those that dive into its darkest depths will find that the journey, however introductorily heavy it may seem, is an intoxicating experience.
½ August 16, 2016
Friedkin's forgotten masterpiece, that's every bit hypnotic as it is tense.
August 9, 2016
The fan theories about this movie are actually more interesting than what I believe was the original intention but whether you want to believe there are supernatural forces at work or just the cruel hands of fate, you cannot ignore how incredibly gripping and intense this movie can be.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2016
William Friedkin's enthralling, vastly underrated masterpiece which has becoming a cult classic. It is a taut, riveting remake of the 1953 French classic "The Wages of Fear." The story concerns four amoral men from different backgrounds and countries who are all fugitives, a terrorist, a corrupt businessman, a hitman, and a getaway driver for the mob. They all end up in a small impoverished hellhole of a town in the middle of the South American jungle. A raging fire at an oil refinery gives the men a chance to finally leave this God-forsaken country for good, the oil company will pay 8,000 pesos to each of the four driver's who transports several cases of extremely-volatile sticks of nitroglycerin in two old heavy truck from it's storage site across 200 miles of treacherous mountain terrain to the location were the oil well burns out of control, the explosives to be used to blast the fire out. The desperate four-man team will be led by an American named Jackie Scalon who uses the alias Juan Dominguez, played brilliantly by the late great Roy Scheider in a truly impressive intense performance, this journey will become a nightmarish odyssey of survival. Masterful direction by Friedkin who gives his unique thriller plenty of suspense and heart-pounding moments. Exceptional supporting performances by Bruno Cremer, Francisco, Amidou, Joe Spinell, Peter Capell, and Fredric von Ledebur. Striking cinematography by Dick Bush & John M. Stephens, with an extraordinarily powerful original score by Tangerine Dream. This is daring and rewarding piece of memorable film-making which is totally unmissable. Highly Recommended.
½ May 24, 2016
Sorcerer (1977) ??? 1/2 C-121m. D: William Friedkin. Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou. Gripping, surreal, vastly underrated remake of WAGES OF FEAR about four men that don't even know each other, agree to risk their lives transporting gallons of nitroglycerin across dangerous South American jungle. Terrifying bridge sequence, plus truly weird score by Tangerine Dream. Hold on to something and watch.
May 22, 2016
Tense and enthralling. A slow-burn thriller lost in the age of Star Wars.
May 13, 2016
Viscerally exciting and superbly photographed remake of Clouzot's Wages of Fear. In the seventies William Friedkin was at the top of his game and by rights, this nail-biting thriller about a group of fugitives transporting nitro-glycerine through the jungles of South America should be mentioned in the same breath as his French Connection and Exorcist. Superior to the original, in my view.
Super Reviewer
May 10, 2016
"Sorcerer" is the second film adaptation of the 1950 French novel "Le Salaire de la peur," the first being the 1953 Henri Georges-Clouzot film "The Wages of Fear." But how does the same novel produce two great films? Two films that have similarities but are completely different movies at the same time. William Friedkin directs this adaptation with an international cast led by the brilliantly underpreciated actor Roy Scheider. The film is a beautiful, tense film that has many thrills. Despite not being critically or financially successful in 1977, some think due to the release of "Star Wars," it's reputation has grown over the years and may be looked at as one of the last great movies of the "New Hollywood" period.
½ May 10, 2016
I can still recall seeing this when it opened back in 1977, at the old Aladdin Theater in Denver, Colorado. No doubt, with a moniker as such, and directed by William Friedkin, most everyone was expecting some kind of horror tale akin to his "The Exorcist." Alas, audiences were disappointed -- critics weren't falling over it, either -- and it came-and-went. Being a young kid at the time, and not being the self-proclaimed (haha!) film aficionado that I am today, I simply went to see it because it was only a few blocks down the street from where we lived at the time, and I didn't need an adult to get in. Little did I know that two hours later, I'd be walking out onto Colorado Boulevard dazed and sucker-punched by what I had just seen! This film -- along with "Once Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" (a couple of years earlier), and "Looking For Mr. Goodbar" (opening in the fall of 1977) -- were film works that changed me from a juvenile to a young adult with a far different taste in movies from my contemporaries. The harrowing scenes of crossing the bridge and exploding the fallen colossal tree (among numerous others) left an indelible impression upon my young psyche. (I had not seen Clouzot's "The Wages Of Fear" at that time -- I finally saw it quite a number of years later as an adult -- so, for me, "Sorcerer" was (and is) a much more powerful and brilliant work.) I can watch this film over and over again, and never get bored. In fact, the more I watch it, the more I see how stupendous of a production it is! If I have any quibble about "Sorcerer" it simply would be that drawn-out drive to the oil field at the end of the movie: For me, it's just a tad-bit overly psychedelic. I always hoped that somehow Scanlan was able to get out of that bar in the closing shot.... A bleak, stark, worthy masterpiece...!
½ April 28, 2016
85%
Saw this on 28/4/16
Willian Friedkin's dark remake of Wages of Fear(1953) improves on the original in many logical ways even though it slighly distances itself from the viewer. The film benefits from taut direction, terrific set pieces, cinematography and most of all CGI that stood the test of time. However, the film does get sloppish and lurid in its third act, but the ending is far far logical than that in the Wages of Fear.
April 12, 2016
The last days of Hollywood making big budget intelligent films for an adult audience before Jaws and Star Wars ruined it all (aswell as Michael Cimino).

Self contained, the story is tense but simple, the journey and pressure, just a vehicle to examine man and their decisions. The tone, performances and soundtrack but Tangerine Dream create an atmosphere of reality but also doom.

If this was made now it would be filled with meaningless crane and helicopter shots, the tensions are felt through its ground level photography and practical effects.
April 5, 2016
An excellent and mesmerizing film that builds in tension and never lets up. Nerve wracking and unrelenting, it shows human reaction to a living hell. Ultimately there is no redemption for the unredeemed. A stunning performance by Roy Scheider. Superb soundtrack Tangerine Dream. Very underrated lost classic. The production problems were a thing of legend. Based on Georges Arnaud's THE WAGES OF FEAR. I prefer this color remake to the black and white original of the latter name. This film is a masterpiece. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT, YOU HAVEN'T LIVED. I spoke to William Friedkin briefly about it once on Twitter. He was gracious.
½ March 3, 2016
I've only started hearing of "Sorcerer" in recent years, and I've only heard that it was an oft forgotten great film...but going in not even knowing the basics of the plot are exactly what made this such a thrilling viewing for me. This movie was really goddamn great. I enjoyed the slow build-up to the main plot, and then just watching these incredibly difficult physical challenges these people are going through...struggling to overcome the elements in order to achieve their goal. It was just a damn good movie, wonderfully shot, with great performances from the cast. It is a raw film, more focused on the visuals and physicality of it all, than on plot or dialogue...but it is just a hell of a movie.
½ January 25, 2016
The movie title is very misleading and the film itself is kinda slow but real fuckin intense and beautifully made.
October 15, 2015
Better than sticking a chisel through your thumb.
½ September 28, 2015
William Friedkin's third and arguably final great film after his one-two punch of "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist", "Sorcerer" is also his most tense and gripping. Unfortunately titled, "Sorcerer", being the name of a TRUCK and having nothing to do with the supernatural, not only suffered an identity crisis when released in 1977 but was also completely overshadowed by "Star Wars" which was released just a month prior. The film was largely panned and ignored until a recent rebirth via digital restoration, led by none other than the director himself, saw this jaw-dropping iteration of "The Wages of Fear" re-evaluated and praised for its almost harrowingly intense action sequences and evocative depiction of desperation and doomed humanity. As a team of desperate men transport a cargo of volatile explosives across the forbidding South American jungle, the choreography is increasingly diabolical, and utterly remarkable for being completely practical and real. These sequences could not and would not have been filmed like this today, and they are all the more gob-smacking for it. Wonderful performances. Completely engaging and damned intense. An amazing film.
½ September 13, 2015
Though made with skill, Sorcerer is painfully slow with thin characters and isn't that recommendable
½ September 13, 2015
One of the most underrated movies from the French Connection
Director. The jungle sequences are just movie heaven making.
Hold your breath, its that good.
July 27, 2015
William Friedkin said, of all his films, this was his favorite. I tend to agree -- this is a superb action film, in many ways, I think, easily the equal of Friedkin's The French Connection. Here, the gruff Everyman, Roy Scheider, takes center stage in a terribly fascinating and harrowing journey into hell and back again. Like Chinatown, Sorcerer is more about the dark existential place one can get to -- confined, desperate and ready to become madness to liberate oneself. It's a brutal and rough terrain, this film, but there is something magical about it. It is definitely Friedkin's last great film, and even, perhaps, a masterpiece.
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