‘The Wages of Fear’ Review — Netflix Remakes a Classic, but to What End?


The Big Picture

  • Netflix’s
    Wages of Fear
    remake falls far short of the original, lacking tension and emotion.
  • The action sequences are lackluster, characters are one-dimensional, and performances are flat.
  • Attempts to recreate pivotal moments from the original film are poorly executed, revealing the remake’s inescapable shortcomings.

One thing should be made clear right out of the gate: the original The Wages of Fear is one of the greatest thrillers ever made. Yes, this stellar 1953 film directed and co-written by Henri-Georges Clouzot has endured because of its impeccable craft, patient pacing, solid performances, often breathtaking visuals, and final emotional punch. Following a group of desperate men who attempt to drive two vehicles full of explosives across a vast expanse of dangerous roads, it’s something you can and should watch on Max right now. You really ought to do that instead of seeing whatever this new Netflix remake is trying to be.

The Wages of Fear (2024)

In order to prevent a deadly explosion, an illicit crack team has 24 hours to drive two truckloads of nitroglycerine across a desert laden with danger.

Release Date
March 29, 2024

Julien Leclercq

Sofiane Zermani , Alban Lenoir , Joseph Beddelem , Toussaint Colombani

104 Minutes

Hamid Hlioua , Julien Leclercq

That an attempt has been made to revisit the classic film more than 70 years later is something that was already bizarre before this new take was even released. Now seeing the end product, it’s even more of a disaster than one would’ve thought possible. That word “product” feels particularly apt as this new The Wages of Fear feels like it will fit right in on Netflix with the sludge of other “content” that you’ll forget about the moment after you watch it. Where the original remains a work of art that is as entertaining as it is well-made, this remake proves to be nothing more than an empty and thunderously stupid approximation of an action film. Neither thrilling nor tense, it’s simply dead on arrival.

What Is ‘The Wages of Fear’ About?

Directed by Julien Leclercq, the film takes elements of the original and makes them worse at every turn. It does so under the guise of amping up the action, but it doesn’t even succeed at that. At the center of this are brothers Fred (Franck Gastambide) and Alex (Alban Lenoir) who we learn via some scattered flashbacks got caught up in a vaguely sketched coup. The latter ended up incarcerated despite it being the former’s plan to try to pull off a small-scale heist using explosives while seemingly using the chaos of the coup to get away with it. This backfired and now Fred is living with Alex’s family, none of whom are given even the most basic of characterization, while he fights to survive being locked up.

However, when the unnamed desert country the two are living in is faced with a catastrophe, the explosion of an oil well that is in dangerous proximity to a refugee camp, they are hired by the company to drive two trucks of nitroglycerin there to safely blow it up. They’ll only have 20 hours to do it and will be accompanied by, among several other superficial characters, Fred’s lover Clara (Ana Girardot) who will help to map their course. They’ll battle off raiders, navigate a minefield, and just generally drag along until the film comes to an explosive yet ultimately hollow end.


This French Thriller Is One of the Tensest Films Ever Made

Few films are as anxiety-inducing as this masterful exercise in suspense.

While it was unlikely that this remake would ever come close to the original, which was itself based on a novel, just how far short it falls is almost impressive. The action, more built around sporadic shootouts and forced hand-to-hand fight sequences, is never even remotely thrilling. Instead, you can see characters practically pulling their punches even as the whole thing is shot and edited in such a way that you never feel immersed in it. What should feel like tense sequences are merely half-assed altercations with the characters having to battle off various one-dimensional enemies. Even as we are constantly shown how the gunfire is almost hitting the explosives in the back of the trucks, never once do you feel the ratcheting up of tension that the original was able to capture so perfectly. Making matters worse, the cast is just not up to the task of giving any of these scenes anything approaching gravitas or emotional investment.

Everything just feels flat as the stony expression of Gastambide rarely changes from scene to scene. Even when it should be something that elicits some sort of reaction behind just blankness, we never get there. A scene that comes up as we approach the end involving a betrayal that could be seen from a mile away is undercut by a performance that feels no different from any other banal moment in the movie. There is never a sense that any of the people in the movie, even when on the edge of death, are anything but actors going through the motions. None of it feels like it has any life to it as it takes the broad narrative structure of a film already made perfectly and strips away all of what made it work.

‘The Wages of Fear’ Can’t Hold a Candle to the Original Film

The moments where this is most clear is when the remake attempts to recreate some of the most pivotal and impactful moments from the original. Namely, the scenes involving having to blow up a boulder and when they must drive through the oil pit are just done so poorly here. Where the original film let these moments build and build, this one just feels like it is tossing them in there without any idea of what made them so engaging in the first place. One would hesitate to call them a reference, considering it is just lifting them and making them worse, though it still feels like it is trying to hew a bit closer to its roots.

This turns out to be its greatest mistake, as all it ends up doing is reveal how fundamentally inert and far from the strengths of the original scenes this one is. It is like a chasm is being opened up before us where you can see the brilliant heights of Clouzot’s film and the dire depths that this one just keeps falling further into. By the time it hits rock bottom, you’re just glad it’s over.

The Wages of Fear 2024 Movie Poster

The Wages of Fear (2024)


Netflix’s The Wages of Fear is a hollow remake with everything from stiff acting to forced action holding it back from even holding a candle to the original.

The Wages of Fear is now available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.



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