Monday, March 1, 2010
The Wages of Fear (1953)
Creating and sub-staining tension and suspense is often necessary to the success of a movie. In this movie’s case, however, its white-knuckle tension emerges after a slow buildup that goes on for about a third of the whole movie. This approach works, if only to set up the movie’s characters of course. But if we didn’t care about these people, then the perils they end up facing later on would feel a bit trivial.
Four men, all French, are seen wasting away in a crumbling South American town that they can not escape from, due to a serious lack of funds needed to obtain passports. In desperation, they take a job, which can actually be considered more of a suicide mission than anything else, really. That job entails transporting liquid nitro through treacherous terrain in two separate and top-heavy trucks. Aside from their desire to be able to travel to a much happier destination, they are also motivated by greed as well as courage (at least in the beginning-then fear naturally sets in), and of course having no other alternative.
The trials and tribulations they face seem rather outrageous, yet they are executed in a way that makes you wonder how the group will survive, or if they will even live to reach the end of their hazardous journey. The middle of the film quickly becomes just that, multiple exercises in getting into, and then finding a way out of, high levels of danger.
My complaint about the ending dragging on, and the final scene being too easy to predict and see coming, this is a top notch thriller in addition to being a great drama as well. Onscreen we have a presentation of how to capture onscreen in a perfect fashion what drives people to engage in fool hardy and dangerous enterprises. 95