Sorcerer

Critics Consensus

Sorcerer, which obstinately motors along on its unpredictable speed, features ambitious sequences of insane white-knuckle tension.

82%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 38

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,767
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Movie Info

In a remote South American town, four expatriates with nothing to lose agree to drive a truck carrying highly explosive chemicals over miles of hazardous terrain. The drivers will be handsomely paid -- if they survive. This knuckle-biting thriller is a remake of the French classic The Wages of Fear.

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Cast

Roy Scheider
as Jackie Scanlon/"Juan Dominguez"
Bruno Cremer
as Victor Manzon/"Serrano"
Amidou
as Kassem/"Martinez"
Ramon Bieri
as Corlette
Peter Capell
as Lartigue
Karl John
as Angerman/'Marquez'
Chico Martinez
as Bobby Del Rios
Richard Holley
as Billy White
Gerard Murphy
as Donnelly
Frank Gio
as Marty
Gus Allegretti
as Carlo Ricci
Nick Discenza
as Father Ricci
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Critic Reviews for Sorcerer

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (9)

Audience Reviews for Sorcerer

  • 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.
    Joseph B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 21, 2014
    First it's "The Exorcist", and now William Friedkin is moving on to sorcery, so he ended up being pretty big on dark magic and what have you in the '70s. Seriously though, what made "The Exorcist" such an effective thriller was its actually underusing the titular exorcist for the sake of focus on how messed up the girl was, and here, there is actually not sorcery going on, and not much else to distract you from the fact that, at the end of the day, this is a gripping dramatic thriller about truckers. I'd say that Friedkin could make it tense if anyone could, but even "The Exorcist" had its slow spots, and you know that this film is in for some, because it's based on a French novel, and therefore a remake of a French-Italian adaptation back in the '50s. Well, "There Will Be Blood" was something of an avant-garde drama about oil, - something that this film actually isn't slow enough to be - and it was awesome, although, in all fairness, its intrigue to us ignorant Americans was augmented by the fact that when they got around to speaking, it was strictly in English, and not English accompanied by French, Spanish, German... Italian, Dutch, Danish, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegien, Celtic, Latin, Yiddish and Klingon. I exaggerate, but to be the big American interpretation of Georges Arnaud's "Le Salaire de la peur", this film is so ethnically diverse that it stopped by Germany and picked up Tangerine Dream to do the score. They probably couldn't afford Kraftwerk, because they spent enough money on this project to blow at the box office like the oil well in this film. There sure is a lot of money up in flames on and off of the screen, probably because people weren't especially interested in seeing an American film that they still had to read, which is unappealing enough, with the many other issues of this nonetheless decent, but held back film taken out of account. As excessively overdrawn as the film's development segment particularly is, it doesn't really feel as though this drama says a whole lot about its characters, who would feel much more fleshed out if the film wasn't so intentionally disjointed with its characterization, and with its plotting overall, for that matter. I reckon the sloppiness of the storytelling peaks with the development segment, which has the nerve to be episodic with its attempts to set up the stories of its leads which eventually converge, but even after that, each segment gets a jarring introduction, and each layer within the segments is juggled unevenly, due to the tightness of the segments' being handled unevenly. Pacing is ultimately a key issue here, even within Walon Green's script, which drags on and on at times, particularly with material whose significance to begin with is about as questionable as yet another aspect which goes plagued with unevenness: storytelling style. I've joked about the level of artiness one might expect a film of this type to take, but this rather American take on certain European filmmaking sensibilities leaves storytelling to alternate between realist traditionalism in plotting, and borderline abstractionism to thematic, stylistic and existential over-plays, in a jarring manner which is almost as distancing as consistency in atmospheric coldness. Yes, whether it simply be steadily moving along its narrative, or getting caught up in some sort of unconventional storytelling lyricism, this film moves along with a quiet intensity that neither Green nor director William Friedkin can justify with material for the thoughtfulness to draw upon, resulting in many a long, slow-burn period which is mostly simply a little bland, and all too often just plain boring. Some will be able to embrace the style of this offbeat drama enough to be rewarded, and others will dismiss the final product as dull and distant, and although I fall somewhere in between these extremes in opinion, I still find the final product held way back by its aspirations to be something it probably shouldn't be and isn't realized enough to be: a thriller too wrapped up in its meditativeness to truly thrill. Nevertheless, the film has more than its fair share of compelling moments to all but compensate for the many questionable aspects, and does so with the help of certain elements within the stylistic attitude that helps in making the final product so underwhelming. Now, as intense as this thriller tries to be, it's debate whether or not Tangerine Dream's overly '70s electric and krautrock sensibilities consistently fit into a score for this film, but the soundtrack of this film remains respectable in its being rather unique, and in its bringing some liveliness to this cold project, when it's actually utilized, that is. The style of this predominantly quiet opus is much more reliant on its environment, and although that sort of naturalism distances in a lot of ways, it also engages, as the film does an almost outstanding job of selecting immersively distinct and sweepingly diverse settings for cinematographers John M. Stephens and Dick Bush to lens handsomely. Storytelling style may be way off here, but other forms of artistic expression found here and there throughout the film are just about engrossing, primarily aesthetically, and partly narratively, in that it draws your attention more into the film and, by extension, the dramatic potential of the film's story. This interpretation of this story is so undercooked, uneven and, to a certain extent, existential that it's pretty hard to see the dramatic possibilities of this film, but it's there, in the form of an adventurous plot, tense conflicts, and intriguing characters who are at least nuanced in concept, and in their portrayals. Characterization is nearly paper-thin in Walon Green's script, but it's still hard to be totally distanced from the characters, for each member of this cast carries enough charisma and, of course, chemistry to sell the characters and their dynamic, and to play anything but a small part in driving this conceptually intimate portrait on man's struggles with the environment, each other, and themselves. The onscreen talent is there, enough so to make up for a lot of the offscreen misguidance, and yet, the flaws in William Friedkin's directorial storytelling are so considerable that they stand a chance of doing a great deal of damage to the final product's engagement value, which is never firmly secured, but held as adequate by what Friedkin does, not simply well, but very well with his thoughtful storytelling, augmented here by a naturalism that, under the right circumstances, immerses, especially when tension mount to an almost gut-wrenching extent. There are some seriously gripping occasions in this film, and between them is a whole lot of nothing going on, but about as much which is genuinely intriguing, not to where the final product rewards, yet to where the drama resonates as an ultimately decent thriller. When the journey ends, you find that the final product doesn't say enough about its characters, keep consistent enough with focus, pacing and storytelling style, or keep exciting enough with all of its chilled thoughtfulness to reward, yet where the film could have really fallen flat, stylish score work, immersive visuals, intriguing subject matter, engrossing performances, and gripping directorial highlights drive William Friedkin's "Sorcerer" as a decent naturalist thriller which could have done more, but does enough to get you by. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jan 19, 2014
    William Friedkin and Roy Scheider team up again with this action adventure. Well executed, directed and acted, Sorcerer is a film that manages stand up to Friedkin's previous works such as the highly memorable The Exorcist and The French Connection. Although not as solid as those films, this directorial effort nonetheless has enough thrills going for it to make it an exhilarating picture. The cast here are terrific in their parts, and I felt that each brought something worthwhile to the screen, that made this film worth seeing. Even with its limitations, Sorcerer is a good effort from Friedkin and he manages to keep you involved with constant twists and turns with the story. There some memorable scenes that Friedkin captures with his camera, especially the bridge crossing scene, which for me the standout of the film. Sorcerer has every ingredient necessary to make for a well crafted action flick, and then you won't be disappointed by this one. I think that Scheider delivered a better performance in Friedkin's French Connection, but in regard, he does deliver a great performance here as well. However, many cinema buffs can agree that his standout role, the defining role of his career was in Spielberg's 1975 Horror, thriller Jaws. Sorcerer is a film that soars above its weaknesses and provides the excitement that films of this period did all too well. Nowadays, we get action films that don't have any heart, but in the 70's, we had a plateau of unforgettable films that are still worth seeing today, and manage to hold very well compared to other films of today. This may not be William Friedkin's masterpiece, but he does manage to hit all the right notes, which has made him a standout director of memorable movies.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2013
    A solid remake of Clouzot's "The Wages of Fear". Friedkin's choice to center this film on environment as opposed to character does weaken the impact of the story. Part of what makes the original so great is that you care about what happens to the four men, here they are far too broad with little development so its hard to be invested in them. Still the film is full of harrowing sequences and changing the setting to the rainforest was a great idea.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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