"The Wages of Fear" is considered one of the truly great films. It not only delivers terrific suspense and excitement, it is also a rather telling comment on the human condition. Some drifters are trapped in a hot, bug-infested South American hell-hole. They are out of luck, out of money and seemingly doomed to remain where they are, fighting hunger, heat and each other. Suddenly, they are offered a small fortune to drive trucks through the jungle, across a mountain range to a destination 300 miles distant. The catch ? The trucks are loaded with nitroglycerine--one bump--one spark--one mistake--and the truck and any unfortunate humans on board are history.
Four men agree to drive two trucks, and their journey will have you biting your finger-nails down to your elbows ! All four actors are fine, with Yves Montand particularly memorable in the lead. I agree with the reviewer who notes that the first half hour of the film is slow, but it sets the mood. It's important to understand why these characters would volunteer for such a "mission impossible", even for a big payday.
The film has a chilling message about the lengths that people will go for money. I couldn't help but consider some of the "reality" television programs we see today like "Fear Factor". It's sad to see what indignities and dangers people will subject themselves to just to make a buck, and how easily they can be exploited.
The picture quality of the DVD is fine. I was surprised to find no extras, given that this is a Criterion release. An interview with one of our current, respected directors would have been a nice bonus. I'm sure that a film buff like Martin Scorsese would have some fascinating comments. Then again--I'm sure he's a busy guy !
Bottom line--a timeless masterpiece for serious film collectors.