The Wages of Fear 2024 Movie Scene Alban Lenoir as Alex standing in front of a big rock with the truck carrying nitroglycerine in the background

The Wages of Fear AKA Le Salaire de la Peur [2024]

I’ve been waiting for this movie to come out for quite some time. As I’m sure many of you were. Just a couple of months ago, I enthusiastically announced its release date. And I told you that I have a good feeling about this one. Well, the good news is that it’s worth watching. And the bad news is, well, we better do this properly, so let’s begin. The Wages of Fear 2024 is a visually alluring but heavily flawed French action thriller set in an unknown African country. We will be following a group of mercenaries trying to transport a load of extremely explosive nitroglycerine. They will have to travel across a treacherous desert populated by rebels and corrupt cops to reach their destination. 

This is actually the third adaptation of Georges Arnaud’s 1950 novel of the same name. Hence the need for nitroglycerine in the 21st century. I did try watching the original 1953 movie starring Yves Montand and I simply could not get into it. On the other hand, William Friedkin’s 1977 Sorcerer is a masterpiece that I regularly keep coming back to. Set in the lush South American jungles it’s an incredibly tense and effective thriller you simply must watch. With that out of the way, it’s time to really dig into this one. The Wages of Fear 2024 opens quite hastily emphasizing the commercial aspect of this adaptation. 

We furiously rush through scenes and events, without much regard for the characters or the storytelling. And this will keep happening throughout the movie. The sex scene is there because the movie needs to have a sex scene. A bit of hand-to-hand combat is there to add excitement to the mix. And while that particular sex scene was anything but arousing the hand-to-hand combat was excellent. Brutal and kinetic, it showcases the undeniable talent of the crew involved in this remake. However, it also begs the question of why didn’t they just make an original movie, without any connections to Le Salaire de la Peur.

I mean, I think that we all know the answer to that question: brand recognition = money. If I had to describe The Wages of Fear 2024 with two words they would be superficial and unrealistic. However, after that rocky start, not five minutes in, we get our first action scene. And things start to look a bit better. At this moment you start to come to terms with the fact that this is going to be a forgettable affair good for exactly one viewing. The cinematography is excellent, reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road. Especially since most of the story takes place in the desert. During those opening twenty minutes, they even toyed with Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. 

As I previously mentioned, the visuals are the strongest quality of this movie. The explosions are big and juicy and the shootouts are quite brutal. However, underneath all of this is one big nothingness. The experienced cast tried their best to mitigate lazy writing but they simply couldn’t do it. And we’re talking about really good French actors here like Alban Lenoir (AKALost Bullet), Franck Gastambide (Restless), and Sofiane Zermani (Close Enemies). The first two adaptations featured an almost entirely male cast so it was refreshing to see Ana Girardot playing the role of Clara in this one. 

The Wages of Fear 2024 is in a constant rush to get to the completely unrealistic action scenes, forgoing any competent character development. It never takes its time to set the mood nor does it have the patience to let certain scenes simmer. The desert offers limited options for action and it also takes the weak. This comes to me as a surprise since Julien Leclercq made some pretty good movies like The Assault and Braqueurs. Actually, this movie is full of surprises and almost all of them are bad. How can you take something so potent and turn it into a barely watchable movie? 

How can you make a movie where people shoot at trucks loaded with highly explosive material and miss every fucking thing? They have not even hit the straps holding the nitro in place. Moreover, towards the end of the movie, Clara just starts throwing them out of the truck like they’re Molotov cocktails! All of this happens after they’ve shown that just one drop creates a big explosion. I felt absolutely nothing for any of the characters and they had such good anti-hero potential. If each and every one of them died, I wouldn’t feel a thing.

Compare this to the nail-biting scenes in Sorcerer and you’ll see what I mean. If this was just another sleek and forgettable Netflix action thriller, I would be much more forgiving. However, it’s not and if you’ve seen the first two adaptations, comparisons are obligatory. If you haven’t, I guess you can look at The Wages of Fear 2024 as a shiny distraction. Something running in the background while you’re rolling another joint and thinking about your next movie.

Director: Julien Leclercq

Writers: Georges Arnaud, Hamid Hlioua, Julien Leclercq

Cast: Franck Gastambide, Alban Lenoir, Sofiane Zermani, Ana Girardot, Alka Matewa, Bakary Diombera

Fun Facts: The Wages of Fear 2024 was filmed almost entirely in Morocco. Additionally, Nitroglycerin is not used by industry for demolitions any more because of its volatility.


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