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Oxygen is a made for Cinemax thriller that does a one up on the thriller genre. This film is about the acting. It does what most other thrillers and films stay away from, the performances. A cop (Maura Tierney) with some very dark secrets is on the trail of a kidnapper (Adrien Brody) who buried a rich woman (Laila Robins) alive in the New York woods. This is a cat and mouse thriller from beginning to end. Adrien Brody is fantastic as a the sick, obsessed with Harry Houdini kidnapper. His acting is so real it's like he's not even trying. He's cunning, cleaver, smart and sick all at the same time. It's drama to the end. He really needs to be cast as the villain in more films. Put him in an action film and bring a whole new level to the word terrorist. Maura Tierney best know for her stint on Newsradio and Jim Carrey's ex-wife in Liar, Liar is just spectacular. She pulls off the cop with more than just problems. She beautiful, tough and confused. Throughout a lot of the film she's in tears. She can act and be tough. Get her some scripts, I wanna see this girl more often. The supporting cast is also great and each brings realism to their performances. Even though this film has dark characters and a dark subject matter, the film is very light looking. The brightness of the film will grab from the start. The colors stand out and are hardly missed. The film has a action flick look but it's a thriller. It's a different mix that works extremely well. Oxygen is an well acted thriller that will drain you. I highly recommend that all should run and check this one out. It's very high on the must see meter.
Good performances, especially from Adrien Brody as a psychotic sadistic killer with a Houdini obsession and Maura Tierney as a cop, make this film stand out. The story is good, but would have suffered in the hands of a less competent director and cast. This is a movie that depends a lot on performance to deliver, and it does. Some of the supporting cast could have been played by better actors, but they are serviceable and are mostly meant to occasionally prod the story along another notch. On the whole, the cast stays out of the way of Brody and Tierney, who are the whole show. It's definitely worth seeing, and another one of those films that seemingly came out of nowhere, as I never heard of it before. I like solid B movies, and this stands out as one of the best. Its obscurity helps to conceal its surprises, and it helps to be surprised with this movie. I gave it an 8 out of 10.
In OXYGEN, Richard Shepard has refined his approach to character-driven
crime thrillers first seen in his previous, also excellent film, MERCY.
Armed with experience and a bigger budget, Shepard has wrested
outstanding performances from Maura Tierney and Adrien Brody, in their
best work to date. Both characters are quite believable, and their
defects are gently extracted and displayed by the subtle script. There
are no stereotypes or one-dimensional characters in the whole film.
This is not to say that this is some esoteric, art-house movie, suitable only for clove-smoking turtleneck-wearers. The action scenes are well-executed and edited. Camera work is very nice; the long Steadicam shot in the train is especially memorable. Tension holds on throughout, and even the asides (such as an FBI agent's humorous soliloquy about the death penalty) integrate well and don't distract.
I sure would like to see what Richard Shepard could do if given some Really Big Bucks.
This made for TV psychological crime thriller exceeded my expectations. The
story begins with the abduction of a rich wife for ransom. She is buried
alive and her abductor sets about collecting the ransom for the location of
her grave. However, this is really not the story but only the set up. The
real story is about what happens after he is caught as the police and the
FBI race against time to get him to reveal where she's
Our sociopathic villain, known to us only as Harry (after his idol Harry Houdini) is well prepared for the psychological cat and mouse game that follows as he had planned what he would do if he were caught. The result is an effective (though often superficial) contest of psychological one upsmanship between Harry (Adrien Brody) and our heroine police detective, Madeline (Maura Tierney).
The story has some noticeable plot flaws for a film that is attempting to be a serious crime drama. Certain elements of Harry's escape attempts are implausible. Much of the dialogue between the police officers and FBI agents was inane drivel that made them look like idiots. There are other problems later in the story involving the buried wife that are also troubling. These are not enough, however, to mar an otherwise well crafted plot.
I was most impressed by the photography, not just the look of the film, but the way the images presented themselves. Director Richard Shepard used the camera very creatively, using objects in foreground and background to dramatize certain images. There was an excellent shot of Madeline's reflection seen in extreme close-up in Harry's eye. The handheld chase scenes made you feel like you were running behind the action. This is a level of directing that is not normally seen on TV. The whole film had a very raw, real look. Things were dirty and disorganized, just like in real life rather than being carefully and symmetrically placed.
The acting ranged from fair to excellent. The cops and the husband were generally pretty mediocre with moments of nausea. Maura Tierney was good but didn't have the range to play Madeline effectively. Madeline's character required a combination of tormented, pathetic self abuser and case hardened cop. Tierney was outstanding at the tormented side, but came across as tentative and flaccid as the cop (which was the greater part of the role).
The best performance comes from Adrian Brody as Harry. He was wry and unsophisticated while being just close enough to the edge to keep you guessing if he was cunning or just a psychopath. He played the part with sarcastic disdain, as if the character thought he was smarter than he really was, which indeed was the case.
Terry Kinney's character, Madeline's cop husband Tim, didn't give him much to work with. He was a wimpy whining loser. Kinney did an adequate job at this portrayal.
I rated this movie 7/10. For those who enjoy a psychological crime thriller, it won't disappoint.
More articulate people than myself have said it all; but I'll have a go anyway :) Oxygen is a tightly paced and utterly watchable thriller about a female detective (Maura Tierney) on the trail of a psychopathic kidnapper (Adrian Brody) and his buried-alive victim, while fighting demons of her own. The 2 leads are both astonishing. Maura Tierney is SO beautiful and SO talented it's almost indecent :) She has such a thoughtful / intelligent face and completely captivated me with her role in Liar Liar. She's just as good in this movie too. Bruce Almighty might have been half decent if MS Tierney had played the role Jennifer Aniston so completely messed up!! Adrien Brody is another fantastically talented actor yet to get the 'star' status he deserves. He was brilliant in The Pianist and he's brilliant here too. His character was very very scarey. So. Well worth watching.
1st watched 3/31/2002 - 8 out of 10(Dir-Richard Shepard): Well-made thriller that is advertised by it's depiction of being buried alive and is actually much more than this. Tierney & Brody give wonderful performances in each of their roles and the direction is almost spotless. Very overlooked movie which deserves much more attention for how well it was done despite not working for a major movie company. I will be looking for more by Mr. Shepard whose direction really made this movie work as well as it did.
Oxygen is one of those truly rare surprises. A thriller that offers great
performances from a "lesser known" cast, chases, twists and
and an overall satisfying story.
Director Richard Shepard had offers of a larger budget but it would have meant having it done the way the higher-ups in suits would have wanted it done. By managing to get several producers on the project, he was allowed to do the film the way he wanted and actually pulled off a fun thriller on a little over a million dollars for the budget. A wealthy sociallite is kidnapped, buried alive, and a ransom is demanded to reveal her location--but she has less than 24 hours, that is, if the air in her makeshift coffin lasts that long. There's a lot of talking going on in the process of saving her, but hey, figure how it would happen in real life, and for those looking for some thinking material as well as thrills, this plot works just fine. Besides, to me the most terrifying thing I can imagine is suffocating or drowning, and the idea of being buried alive like in this film is genuinely creepy.
Maura Tierney plays the cop role with much seriousness, Adrien Brody is so off kilter you forget he's actually a decent guy in real life (as revealed on the DVD's audio commentary), but big points go to Laila Robins as the woman buried alive--her character is so convincing she makes you feel uneasy to the point of squirming in your seat. There's a stunning car chase as well to satisfy action enthusiasts, but it's within context and not just another cheap thrill to fill up time. And just when you think things are about to finish, a really big wrench is thrown in to twist the story even more and have you thinking, "Wait just a darn minute...."
I found viewing the DVD a much more satisfying experience, as you get the widescreen version and better quality picture. The audio commentary is quite informative and even informal, as the director points out a tiny judgment mishap in which a scene was shot early with the actors wearing jackets, but the rest of the film surrounding that scene everyone is made to look like they're sweating from the hot weather. Considering I was originally enthralled with the story, I really didn't notice that until listening to the commentary. The DVD also has an interesting storyboard sequence for the car chase scene, with commentary. For a lesser known film with a small budget, there was quite a bit of care put in this release.
Give yourself a treat and check this film out. Consider this: Sometimes it's more fun to try a film that's not a big market blockbuster instead of having to only go with a "top 10" title. Just because a film has big stars and is pushed as a "hot new release" in a video store doesn't mean anything (goodness, haven't you learned that by now, folks?). Oxygen is one of those great little surprises that will have you saying, "Gee, why didn't I give this one a try earlier?"
This movie rocks. The acting is superb,the plot is compelling; all in all its a great watch. I'd definately recommend it. If you can, you shoud get the DVD because It has director commentary along with the two lead actors, Maura Tierney (who is amazing) and Adrian Brody (also amazing). The director and writer, Richard Shepard, is way cool as well and does a great job, especially considering the film's small budget. Very suspenseful, compelling movie.
Roaming around Hollywood Video's New Releases, passing through theatre hits
and theatre flops, and the the unending list of direct-to-video releases, I
found this. The story seemed like a good one, and I was in a hurry for
something, so I decided to give it a whirl.
The story is interesting. A middle-aged woman, Frances, is walking her dog when she is approached by what seems like a mild-mannered man. Before she knows it, he flashes a gun, dazes her by hitting her on the temple with it, and smuggles her into a car with a friend. They drive out to the woods somewhere, where she is terrified at the realization that they plan to bury her alive, holding her hostage for her rich husband's money. They put her in the box, the man's accomplice mercifully slipping her the flashlight, and bury her, leaving her to scream in terror.
Move to New York City, where a cop, Madeline, is made aware of the predicament. After witnessing a horrifying tape of Frances begging for help in the woods, the police must plot to catch the kidnappers and find the woman, all in twenty-four hours, or Frances will run out of oxygen and die.
I won't elaborate any more on the plot, only that this movie was surprisingly good. When I noticed it was from A-Pix, I groaned and figured I was in for an hour and a half of trash. But then I saw the breathtaking first few minutes, and I was shocked. If anything, those first three to five minutes are terrifying. As Frances is being buried, she is screaming and begging, struggling to survive, lying in that wooden box as the cover is being slipped on, with only a flashlight to depend upon. And even though the cops-pursuing-the-antagonist plotline is overused, it was quite tense, especially when you realize that there are only twenty-four hours to solve the mystery of where Frances is, and the kidnapper is not interested in talking, while his accomplice is nowhere to be found.
Yes, there are flaws. The script is quite bad, with some lines that I can't believe they wrote in. For some reason, I liked the FBI agent's monologue on the death penalty a la lethal injection, but a lot was pretty bad. Maura Tierney was somewhat convincing as the main cop, playing a B-movie's Clarice Starling. The actor who played Francis's husband was a bit campy. Adrian Brody, the kidnapper, was pretty good, if not a little tough to believe. The one who out-acted them all was Laila Robins, who played Francis. Her role is quite small, only because there's a lot of restrictions with laying in a box underground for the most of the movie. But she was so convincing. My favorite scene is when the flashlight is dying, and she is screaming and begging for it to live a little longer, because, as we learn early on, she is afraid of the dark. I swear, I felt like I was her, and I couldn't believe how empathetic I was of her. Her acting reminded me of Marylin Burn's stellar performance as Sally in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." She conveyed the emotions of the situation very well. I think that's why I felt so bad for her.
Overall, I recommend finding this. No, it's not the best thing ever made, but it is very good, and quite intense. Check it out!
I think this is a pretty good movie. Basically, Maura Tierney plays a
detective who has some very big personal problems to deal with and gets
sucked into a kidnapping case only to become the last hope the victim has.
I especially like the way Maura is cast as the leading role. Refreshingly, she is a real woman with very real problems. Most people probably cannot relate with the specific issues she has to deal with, but the one thing I was left with when the movie was over was that she was 100% believable. She's not some kind of "super" human like every other star in a good-guy vs. bad-guy movie. She's just a smart detective who manages to stay alive.
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