The Wages of Fear – This Classic Trucker Film’s Netflix Remake is a Crash

MOVIE REVIEW – Netflix’s reimagined take on the Henri-Georges Clouzot classic is like a well-planned journey that, regrettably, heads in the wrong direction: Despite its modern cinematic visuals, it fails to reach the original work’s heights of brilliance. What might have seemed promising on paper becomes a somewhat sterile and soulless production in practice, not only failing to add to the original but also diminishing it. This remake reinforces the rule: there are classics better left untouched.


Riddle me this: What requires more delicate handling, a volatile tube of nitroglycerin or the legacy of The Wages of Fear? The answer isn’t hard to figure out, but you’ll soon learn from this review…

Henri-Georges Clouzot’s masterpiece, which garnered critical acclaim and audience success in 1953, and even snagged the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival, already birthed a brilliant unofficial successor: William Friedkin’s 1977 film Sorcerer, which also achieved classic status. And now, in 2024, Netflix has decided to gift the world with another descendant, produced in France, directed by Julien Leclercq (known for The Assault and the Braqueurs series on Netflix). Although Leclercq deeply respects Clouzot’s work, as the director revered the original Georges Arnaud novel, this film turns out to be a botched adaptation that also embodies every single flaw of modern action movies.



Though no Yves Montand, the actors do make an effort…


Four protagonists, two trucks full of unstable explosives, hundreds of miles of winding roads, all aimed at extinguishing an oil well fire within 24 hours. The audience quickly finds itself on familiar terrain, albeit without Yves Montand and Charles Vanel. Instead, Franck Gastambide and Alban Lenoir embody the daring brothers driven into this perilous adventure for various reasons.

Along the way, they are joined by a civilian organization activist (Ana Girardot) and a mercenary from the oil company (Sofiane Zermani, also known as Fianso in the rap scene), set against a chaotic, Middle-Eastern reminiscent desert landscape. What can be salvaged in this new version of The Wages of Fear? Perhaps only the actors’ commitment, who spare no effort to deliver masculine performances. However, this is the sole enjoyable factor of the entire film. From the first minutes, it’s clear that the movie won’t be loathsome, just… instantly outdated, thus quickly fading into oblivion.



The good old days were indeed better


Clouzot’s version of The Wages of Fear, 71 years ago, set a bar, especially with its genius timing, that has yet to be surpassed. The truck, which could explode at any moment, brings constant tension and threat into the story, palpable throughout Clouzot’s film.

In Julien Leclercq’s version, however, this sense of timing vanishes entirely. The forward momentum, intersecting subplots, and lack of a clear direction mean the film fails to make any significant impact. It feels as though the characters, and the audience themselves, are being manipulated by an invisible screenplay writer who only follows two simple rules: move forward for survival and occasionally encounter danger to capture the audience’s attention.

When the film finally announces the main threat – desert warriors and mines – the characters (and the camera itself) seem to forget what the real stake is: the trucks filled with unstable explosives that could detonate at any moment. These scenes are as ineffective as if the trucks were loaded with bananas, not life-threatening explosives.



From classic to cliché


Compared to the versions envisioned by Clouzot and Friedkin, each brimming with unique visual and thematic flair (Clouzot’s version being cynical and delicate, while Friedkin’s was raw and tormented), Leclercq’s rendition is just another modern action film. The rare genre of French action movies might have deserved a more attentive and substantial approach than this rushed and aimless editing technique, which never allows the scenes to breathe on their own and exploit their potential. It raises the question, was it really necessary to excavate Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic for this purpose?

Julien Leclercq’s good intentions and proficiency in shooting action and chase scenes save the production from total failure. However, unlike Clouzot’s work, this film conveys no message, vision, societal relevance, or moral stance. And as the universe is just, in certain countries on Netflix, the wonderful original 1953 version is available, proving that Clouzot can rest easy.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-



The Wages of Fear

Direction - 3.2
Actors - 7.4
Story - 5.1
Visuals/Music/Sounds - 6.2
Ambience - 5.1



Netflix's attempt to breathe new life into Henri-Georges Clouzot's classic film history piece, The Wages of Fear, unfortunately did not achieve the desired result. Despite intentions of modernization and refreshment, the remake fails to capture the original film's genius and tension, becoming merely a faint memory of the classic work. The actors' dedication is commendable, but alone it cannot save the film, turning it into a forgettable action movie among many.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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