Combustible Celluloid
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With: Maura Tierney, Adrien Brody, Dylan Baker, Terry Kinney, James Naughton, Laila Robins, Paul Calderon, Olek Krupa
Written by: Richard Shepard
Directed by: Richard Shepard
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 92
Date: 11/12/1999

Oxygen (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Fresh Air

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With Adrien Brody currently starring in Roman Polanski's masterpiece The Pianist, fans might like to get a look at another side of his repertoire. In Oxygen he plays a cruel kidnapper called "Harry" who buries his victim alive, giving the family members only about 24 hours to pony up the cash before the air runs out.

The always-wonderful Maura Tierney plays a complex role as Madeline Foster, a burnt-out cop whose life is so numb she secretly visits a sadist to get tortured and burned with cigarettes.

It's hot and sticky in New York City and everyone's tempers are on the rise. When Madeline and her team catch Harry, he latches on to her as the one he wants to deal with exclusively. They toy with each other until one finally comes out ahead.

Though released straight-to-video, writer/director Richard Shepard (The Linguini Incident) manages a skilled, brilliantly-acted thriller with plenty of genuine suspense and fresh ideas.

The DVD release (1999, A-Pix Entertainment, $9.98) comes with his commentary track, joined by Tierney and Brody, as well as storyboards and filmographies.

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