Netflix remakes 1953 French movie The Wages of Fear into a Fast and Furious spectacle

Wages of Fear
(Image credit: Netflix)

The 1953 French movie Wages of Fear is widely regarded as a classic and one of the key influences on modern movies. It's a tale of desperate men transporting two truckloads of nitroglycerine across a danger-laden desert – and while it's an edge of the seat thriller, it's also a savage satire. 

One reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a flawless 100% score, calls it "an uncompromising parable about money, greed, and man's jealous desire for that which he can never have". The movie is so iconic that it was remade in 1977 under the title Sorcerer, and now Netflix is remaking its own version of it.

As you can see from the new Netflix movie's trailer below, the 2024 reboot looks just as explosive as the original, but benefits from all the marvels available to modern filmmakers – the action scenes of trucks sprinting down highways are reminiscent of Fast and Furious movies. But the emphasis on action does raise an important question: will the 2024 remake keep the original's darkness?

Why The Wages of Fear is already a modern classic

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Dave Kehr describes the fifties original of The Wages of Fear as "one of the most deeply and disturbingly nihilistic films ever made" – and while the edited cut shown in US theaters was a "mutilated version" it was still "one of the most heart-pounding thrillers on record". It was also arguably pretty anti-American, something that had the film accused of being communist propaganda when it was first released. 

The film – and arguably Georges Arnaud's novel of the same name that it was based on – went on to influence a generation of filmmakers, including Sam Peckinpah of The Wild Bunch. Slant magazine put it best when it wrote that the original source material now feels like "the spiritual godfather to every testosterone-fuelled thrill ride since".

The late film critic Roger Ebert revisited the film in 1992, arguing that the action has aged much better than its often really awful sexual politics and its politics more generally. "The film's extended suspense sequences deserve a place among the great stretches of cinema," he wrote, adding that "if the opening sequences, now restored, have a tendency to drag, the movie is heart stopping once the two trucks begin their torturous 300-mile journey to a blazing oil well". 

The Wages of Fear will premiere on Netflix, the best streaming service, on March 29, 2024.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.