Sorcerer is a film I have seen mentioned across the entirety of the Internet at this point. Accompanied by one specific image featuring a bridge and a huge truck. For the longest time, that was the entirety of my knowledge of it. It's a film I let slide by for a very, very long time for no particular reason, and having started going through William Friedkin's library, I figured it was finally time to dive in and see just what this film was about.
Some call Sorcerer a thriller, and I've even seen some mentions referring to it as a horror. I certainly knew the latter wasn't true, but the thriller side seemed to hold my interest. Though, fortunately, I wasn't one to fall for the film's title. I had read after watching that many delved into the film expecting the title to reflect the events and perhaps reflect William Friedkin's prior style in The Exorcist. An easy mistake to make, however, given the promotional material for the film certain gives off that aesthetic.
Sorcerer starts off quite confusing, mysterious, and certainly does give off a more thriller feeling, we're thrown into a remote location in South America in which chaos is ensuing. For a while, nothing is spoken in English, which did in fact have me questioning whether this was going to continue or not. While I'm fine with international cinema, it did catch me slightly off guard when it felt as if it wasn't going to end anytime soon. It only added to the mystery of just what this film is really about after years of seeing references to it online.
Though, with time, Sorcerer begins to flourish. It opens itself up to you and begins the adventure: a highly dangerous amount of sensitive explosives need to be transported across the rocky mountains of South America and can only be driven to the location. Those who accept the driving job will be offered legal citizenship and a large sum of cash for their efforts. A few men in hiding offer themselves up for the job, completely unaware of the difficulties to come.
What makes Sorcerer so engaging is its ability to feel completely fresh once it really gets going. Their routes don't seem predetermined at all, as if the film crew really just drove through the worst possible terrains and filmed everything. It's highly stressfulm and nothing really seems planned at all. The characters are given rusted trucks with very little resources to set off on their drive, which as a viewer only has you question just when and how much worse things are going to get with so much room for things to go wrong.
The film begins its psychological toll on the characters with each new struggle through the terrain. The roads crumbling and definitely not safe to drive on, their trucks filled with highly sensitive explosives ready to give them a one-way ticket to paradise at the slightest movements. These moments result in minor conflicts with the characters, and show their desperation to get this job over and done with by any means necessary in order to escape from the law. What works in the film's favour is the weather that hits the characters as their conflicts begin, they're receiving the very worst of everything and their criminal pasts are tested against each other. For the viewer, the question as to whether any of this is really worth it comes to mind.
With the nightmarish feeling the film gives, it's incredible to think of how carefully crafted the film really is. William Friedkin's ability to direct and perfect each shot with careful composition and being limited to the constant movement of trucks shows clear talent. The tension continues to grow and the environments seem more and more chaotic and difficult even for a film crew. Though this is certainly not a film for everyone. It does have its slower, more confusing moments towards the start. It can easily filter out someone looking for a bit more action and character development, and I have no doubts that it has done so for money, and perhaps resulted in the film not gaining the traction it deserves even to this day.
It's a film worth the time, providing you have a lot of it and, while being simply put, don't mind a runtime that consists of large amounts of driving in the middle of nowhere.