jimmyoc’s review published on Letterboxd:
Friedkin’s Exorcist follow up eschews the outlandish and shocking horror of that film, providing instead something very real and raw: fate, destiny, existential discovery and hellish journeys.
A prologue shows four disparate narratives focusing on four men, including Roy Scheider’s Jackie Scanlon, living on the precipice of existence: not heroes, but flawed men who are real, as Friedkin says. The four are forced to become ghosts, living in war torn South America, amidst social political unrest, brought together by fate or destiny, eventually taking a job transporting dynamite through unstable terrain.
It’s a very wet film: the dynamite is literally sweating, causing incredible tension and sweat in both characters and audience as they traverse uneven roads and bridges, through jungle and vengeful storms; characters drip with sweat in the sweltering heat; the burning rage of civil unrest.
Although it is very much grounded, there is a strange surreal, almost supernatural edge to some of the film, especially in the final transportation scenes. The blue filter and and alien-like terrain, coupled with the maniacal laugh of a dead man, convey something that is quite phantasmagorical. This is only heightened by the Tangerine Dream score. Magical and mystical; it is haunting and hypnotic as it pulsates and writhes and calms.
Its visual of biblical journey through hellish terrain may have been co-opted by Top Gear and the like for its challenges, but Friedkin weaves an adventure of futile acts that is a masterclass in tension: every scene grips, forcing you to join their relentless journey, before a gut-wrenching ending that questions fate and the individual’s worth.