Deliverance Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2010
This thriller concerns the exploits of four good old Southern boys trekking down a huge, thrashing river. Set in a very incestuous, back-hoe section of Georgia, the film becomes unsettling as soon as they venture into a small town in search for drivers. The infamous dueling banjo/guitar scene occurs right away, putting it in the forefront of your mind. In this perturbing setting the characters move around easily, stretching out their legs and hamming it up with one another. Though it's masked by the sexual assault and nature vs. man narrative the real theme of the film is the state of manliness and its cousin, machismo. Personified beefcake Burt Reynolds, provides the perspective of pure manliness in the character of Lewis: he hunts and fishes with a crossbow, sleeps under a ramshackle homemade tent, sloughs through mansplaining monologues about his intrepid wanderings in the wilderness, and revels in his absurd testosterone fueled opinions on manhood. The other three are there to watch him boast and bray, themselves trying to find their manliness amongst the rushing rapids of the river. The story concerns the four men, but it's really the story of Ed (Voigt), who fails to live up to Lewis' expectations: he can't hunt, can't protect himself and Bobby (Beatty), doesn't argue with Louis, and can't save Drew (Cox) from the river's wrath. Near the end of the film he is tasked with defending them and this time he succeeds, to his detriment. Everything serves as a metaphor in this film, including, unfortunately, the infamous piggy scene. Beatty is the only one of the four to eschew traditional roles of masculinity, and so he is the one who is victimized. Near the end of the film we think that this film has been about hillbillies threatening four men on the river, and when the second murder occurs it seems obvious that everything has been righted for our heroes. In fact, it serves as another metaphor, which shows that relying on animalism for decision-making incurs violent, and deadly, repercussions. The ending of the film dragged far too long, as this message is waylaid in order for guilt to be shifted between the remaining members of the troupe, belying the point of the rest of the film. Otherwise this was a thoughtfully crafted film about the role of manhood and how it denigrates men, making them murderous brutes.
Super Reviewer
September 17, 2013
Four friends explore the whitewater rapids of country backwoods, but their fishing trip turns tragic when one of their members is sexually assaulted.
In what could be a cliche horror/slasher film, Deliverance explores themes of civilization and ethical dilemmas. The scenes between the backwoods, redneck natives and the cultured, civilized explorers take on a unique significance because we're meant to question the characterizations with which we approach these people. Are the civilized really that civilized? Does one have to respond to violence with violence in a violent context?
Strong performances by Jon Voight, whose character acts as a kind of moral center to the film (the film is - in some ways - a battle for Ed's soul), and Burt Reynolds, the adaptable tough guy, carry the film.
Overall, this is a classic for good reason, a film that takes serious issues with the gravity they deserve.
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2008
"Sometimes you have to lose yourself 'fore you can find anything."

Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

One of the most famous works made by John Boorman, Deliverance is also one of the most momentous movies shot in the seventies. Its reputation comes from the fact that the director chose to take the opposite view of how nature was commonly perceived in American cinema. Indeed, many films showed a positive view of it and showcased it as a happy refuge where man could find relief and strength from a stressful civilization. In a way, this is the goal that the four main protagonists in Boorman's film indirectly try to reach. They decide to go down the river in a canoe to go back to their roots and to take advantage of a rural place that is bound to be swallowed up by a dam. At first, Boorman seems to be on their side. The film depicts numerous shots of a gorgeous river and imposing landscapes. Details reinforced by a slow, contemplative rhythm and a discreet editing. Moreover, Drew (Ronny Cox) tries to communicate with a muted peasant through music.

But little by little, Boorman reveals to the audience that elements of these beautiful landscapes make nature dangerous and hostile to the four adventurers. One can note down that before the apparition of the two silly peasants, Lewis (Burt Reynolds) had animal instincts in him. After the killing of one of the two men, he chooses to bury the corpse and not to call the police. From this watershed onwards, Boorman manages to create an intense tension that won't subside. On the contrary, it will increase with the other misadventures endured by the four men. None of them will be spared and all of them will keep physical or moral scars from this sad trek. The message conveyed by the filmmaker is clear: man must accept society and his return to nature can only damage his personality. A must see film.
Super Reviewer
May 14, 2007
There's much that stays in memory after seeing this extraordinary film. You have the bizarrely entertaining "Dueling Banjos" scene at the beginning of the story. Then there's the infamous male rape scene, which its perhaps most known for. What strikes me the most, however, are the engrossingly absorbing performances by actors Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, John Voight and Ronny Cox. Bill McKinney and Herbert Coward are incredibly convincing as well, as the two depraved mountain men, who turns the four friends' river-rafting trip into a harrowing and tightly wound nightmare. The depth and intricacy invested into these characters, in combination with James Dickey's fantastic script, is what puts the meat on the structural bones of this film, while simultaneously making it a tremendously compelling watch. The complete and sudden turn-around from a lighthearted adventure to an intense and graphic drama-thriller, is brilliantly done, leaving you shocked and paralyzed at what unfolds before your eyes. There's this great line spoken by Burt Reynolds, where he says that "Sometimes you have to lose yourself, before you can find anything". Well, I was happy to lose myself into this outstanding piece of classic cinema. For within I found an unique dramatic journey, wealthy in character and elaborate in its making. A reflection of human nature at its darkest and most disturbing, but also two hours of great suspense and pulse-pounding intrigues. Whatever your reasons for seeing it, however, there's one thing that holds true to all viewers: it's a movie beyond convention that is impossible to forget or be unaffected by. A one-of-a-kind, supremely directed thriller, that now goes straight to my Top 10 list for Best Movies of the 1970's. Highly recommended, to anyone who has the stomach to manage it discomforts.
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2011
Deliverance is an intense film with an impressive cast. The film is famous for the "dueling banjos scene" and many others. The films focuses on a group of men who travel deep in the woods, and have to face odds in order to survive a terrible ordeal. Deliverance is an accomplished Thriller with great performances. The story is both horrifying and thrilling. The film isn't a straight forward horror film, even though it's been acclaimed in horror circles. The film of course has a horrifying scenario. If this film would be close to a horror film, it would be a psychological horror drama. Deliverance is a hard film to watch, it's disturbing, vicious and its realism makes it disturbing. The cast do a great job in their respective parts, and this film proves at one point that Burt Reynolds could actually act. This is a hard film to watch, but one that every film fan should see due to the significance of the overall work. Deliverance is a solid film that is bold, brutal, engrossing and thrilling. You'll never see quite a film like this one. The cast elevate the film and the story, though simple is very effective to make the viewer feel uneasy. A terrific film that you won't soon forget, Deliverance is definitely a classic of drama. With elements of horror thrown into the film, Deliverance may as well also appeal to horror fans, even though it's not a straight forward horror film. The acts are horrifying, but there is nothing excessively scary about this film. The film is more shocking that scary due to the horrifying acts behind bestowed upon the city slickers in the film.
Super Reviewer
½ July 6, 2011
Ed: Look, what is it that you require of us?
Mountain Man: What we, uh, "re-quire" is that you get your god-damn asses up in them woods.

I wouldn't call Deliverance a horror film, but it does have real-life horror in it. If I had went into this movie knowing nothing about it; it would have been a complete shock when we meet the infamous "mountain men." The set-up for it is great and they truly sell the fact that the movie is a buddy canoeing trip film. At the beginning, there is a great "Dueling Banjos" scene that fuels the music for the rest of the movie. We watch the friends bond for awhile and canoe successfully for a day. But the whole tone of the film changes in the blink of an eye. The rape scene is disturbing and scary like must true horror movies can't be. This is shit that can actually happen. It's not Jason running around, slicing people up, dying, coming back to life, and killing again. The performances by the 4 friends are great. Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox all played their roles to perfection. It's one of those movies that will stick with you long after you've watched it.
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2011
Deliverance is one of those movies that is sadly only remembered by most for one line of dialogue and not for its mastery of suspense and manipulation of viewer expectations. Much like its fellow 70s evil hillbilly movies, this sets out to essentially let you know that trusting anyone is a bad idea. This goes a lot deeper than say Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre though because it's not a straight-forward horror movie. You're not expecting to find psychotic rapists/killers in a story about four friends going canoeing. John Boorman uses a lot of his vague wideshots here and it's extremely unsettling and perfect for the style trying to be achieved. The power of John Voight and a gung-ho Burt Reynolds only add to the already unforgettable nature of this movie. It is completely unmatched in terms of manipulating expectations, creating an established group of characters and then completely changing the pace. A lot of people will somehow miss the excellence of this because it's difficult to get on a casual glance. It's not a fun type of movie, but a work of art among Man Movies.
Super Reviewer
March 14, 2011
This film is excellent in it's suspense and turn in plot. The environment seems peaceful and enjoyable in the beginning of the film with the up beat music and good times, but the fun takes a turn for the worse when the 4 friends run into some trouble. The downfall is the last quarter of the film because it seems drag on and the movie ends without any sort of climax, it just fizzes out.
Super Reviewer
January 10, 2009
I just watched this again for the first time in God knows how many years, maybe fifteen or twenty. This is actually probably the first time I've ever seen the movie uncut, without it having been edited for television. It's funny but Deliverance often gets forgotten when people are talking about the censor-baiting cinema of the early Seventies which pushed back the boundaries of acceptable screen violence, even though it has retained its power to shock better than many of those more notorious movies, the thematically similar Straw Dogs among them. Boorman's film and Peckinpah's naturally bear fascinating comparison, not least because the theme of the stranger in a strange land is extended in both to the foreign national at the helm: Boorman, the Englishman, shooting in the backwoods of Georgia and South Carolina; Peckinpah, the American, on location in southwest England. Boorman's is the better picture though because it resonates on a deeper level. In Straw Dogs we sympathise with Dustin Hoffman's mathematician because he hasn't personally done a great deal to provoke the villagers' hostility; the same might also be said of the four canoeists in Deliverance, as individuals, but it's also true to say that as 'city boys' they represent the encroaching 'civilisation' which is set to destroy the local way of life with the imminent flooding of the river valley.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2011
Every so often a film's image in popular culture is defined by a moment completely out of character with the film as a whole. One could argue that this is true for the ending of The Wicker Man, or the lengthy fight sequence in They Live. But there can be no better example of this than Deliverance, whose five minutes of light-hearted duelling banjos masks a gruelling, harrowing and edgy thriller that will haunt you for days on end.

In another director's hands, James Dickey's novel about four wannabe "city boy" adventurers could have ended up as a very simple, nuts-and-bolts exploitation film: a clash of civilised and savages, townies versus hicks, and the last man standing wins. But in what remains his best film, John Boorman manages to take this limited narrative and turn it into both a frightening voyage of discovery and one of the best environmental films ever made.

Deliverance draws on a recurring theme in Boorman's work of man versus nature, or more precisely the unquantifiable power of the natural world compared to the humans who attempt to dominate it. In his later career, Boorman would make these kinds of points a lot more heavy-handedly: the sheer quantity of tree-hugging in The Emerald Forest makes Terrence Malick look like a gun-toting industrialist. Here, however, there is a very good balance between the film's political message and the drama of the characters through which such a message is communicated.

As the film begins, we are introduced to our four modern men - modern in the sense that they live over and above the landscape and are imposing their authority on it even by the act of going on the river. The local hicks warn the men that what they are doing is stupid, but they dismiss such comments as superstitious crazy talk and stick rigidly to their plans. The car journey to the river is intercut with scenes of bulldozers ferrying rock from a quarry and huge cliff walls being dynamited, as if every action of Man against his habitat is one of exploitation or destruction. They even invoke the great explorers of old having just safely barrelled through the rapids.

But although these men come from the same stock, we are slowly but surely introduced to little fissures in the group. Burt Reynolds' character seems to be more 'at one with nature' than the others, and feels genuinely sorry that the river will be flooded while the others are just there for the fun. Dru, played by Ronny Cox, is the most na´ve and childlike of the four, bringing his guitar everywhere and spending the opening act riding through rapids with no life jacket and a beaming grin. Ned Beatty is overly cautious, being the most out of shape and reluctant to be ordered around, and Jon Voight has some pretentions towards being like Reynolds but is ultimately out of his depth; he carries a bow, but gets the shakes whenever he tries to use it.

Aside from a direct warning against exploiting one's surroundings, there is a more subtle thread in Deliverance about the character of modern Man and how He is more or less incapable of returning to 'the old way of life'. All four men, even Reynolds, are at heart white-collar workers, who feel at home in their busy offices with paper and coffee, or in their large homes with loving wives. Their affection for nature is entirely playful, since none of them would choose to give up what they have to live like a hunter-gatherer. They enjoy pretending to be wild when in fact they are nothing of the sort, and as long as their journey is filled with beauty and adrenaline, their experience of 'nature' fits in with their worldview.

But, as the darker, less merciful side of nature begins to rear its ugly head, these men quickly become overwhelmed by their surroundings, and we understand just how little they really know. If Reynolds et al are an expression of Man's desire for dominance of nature, mitigated by a faux fondness of its beauty, then the hicks or in-breds are a manifestation of nature itself: uncompromising, ruthless, set in its ways and not so much of a pushover. The crucial mistake of the gang is not being among nature of itself: their mistake is assuming that they are in control.

The famous rape scene, in which Ned Beatty is made to "squeal like a pig", is an ironic role reversal based upon one of the film's opening lines. Over some long aerial shots of the river, Reynolds remarks that in building the dam, people are "raping" the river and the surrounding countryside - and here we have nature raping man, not in self-defence or out of vindictiveness, but because that's the way it has always been. Boorman shoots these sequences very sensitively; his camera does not revel in Beatty's humiliation, with a clever combination of wide shots and close-ups on his face doing more than enough to terrify us.

Had Boorman not set up the themes of the story, and brought them out of the woodwork so accessibly (no pun intended), scenes like this would appear gratuitous or exploitative. But just like the ending of The Wicker Man, the brutality of Deliverance is justified because it vividly conveys the themes and ideas of the film. Scenes like this demonstrate that, under the right circumstances, visceral, gut-wrenching horror can say as much about a subject as a dozen boring conversations. As with The Wicker Man or Alien after it, the violence in Deliverance instinctively shocks but remains with you until its symbolic significance becomes clear.

Those who are unconvinced by this need only look at a scene just before the rape sequence, in which Jon Voight is crouched behind a tree trying to shoot a deer. There is nothing tense or threatening about his situation, save for the small matter of finding breakfast. But even so, he hesitates, his hand shudders and the arrow flies off into the trees causing the deer to flee. The set-up is the same as before: Man assumes he is in control, attempts to enact that control, and finds that he can't.

Deliverance is also a very well-directed piece of work and a lesson in great low-budget filmmaking. Although the film looks rough and ready in places, it also has a great drained-out beauty to it. This is achieved through Vilmos Zsigmund's trademark use of 'pre-fogging', in which the celluloid is partially exposed before shooting to create a muted colour palette. Because the budget was so low (around $2m), all the stunts are real, right down to Ronny Cox tumbling head-first into the rapids. Boorman's camerawork is inventive and precise, following the men above and below the water as they struggle to the surface and fight for breath.

Deliverance is also notable for its limited use of music. Aside from its duelling banjos at the start, there isn't really any soundtrack to speak of. The film is comparable with Get Carter, which introduces its jazzy theme in the opening minutes and then fleetingly revisits it at key moments to add tension or terror. The little banjo touches as the survivors float around the river are few and far between, and every time they pop up our eyes dart frantically to the trees, searching for further enemies who might spring out at any moment. Like any great Western, Deliverance knows how to use the stillness of the landscape to create tension, and its use of background noise like water rushing or birdsong will shred your nerves to breaking point.

Deliverance is a great film with exceptional performances from its cast: Voight is every bit as good as he was in Midnight Cowboy, and Reynolds has never better, carrying himself in several scenes like a young Marlon Brando. It also remains Boorman's best film, being more substantial than Point Blank or Hell in the Pacific but also much less indulgent than his later works. Like Get Carter it isn't quite flawless, as things take a while to get going and still feels rough around the edges. But that's a small price to pay for a top-notch thriller which is intensely terrifying and terrifyingly intense.
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2010
Although I didn't care for this movie, it may have been the inspiration for all the teen slasher movies that take place in the woods, so you have to give it credit. It's pretty good.
Super Reviewer
½ December 19, 2010
i kinda thought this was the balls and really felt like a man when i was watching it which is cool cause i was watching it with my dad so we got to have a sweet bonding moment and remember briefly how much fun scouts was back in 3rd grade and i turned to him and watched him shove a tear back into his eye before it fell onto his cheek and i almost said "i love you, dad". until about half an hour in, and we got to see Ned Beatty get raped by a guy who looks like John Denver's ghost and then i let out a sigh of relief because i knew i didnt have to say it.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2010
Wow, 94% of critics liked this movie? Not often you see a movie here that more of a percentage of critics liked than Flixster Users. I liked this movie too. I'd went white water rafting for the first time ever a few months ago, and heard 3 different people mention this movie, so I decided to watch it, and wasn't disappointed at all. It keeps you interested in the whole time and has a few memorable sequences you're not likely to forget anytime soon, such as the "squeal like a pig" scene, and the banjo duel. Definitely recommended.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ November 27, 2009
"Deliverance" is a tough, harrowing tale of over-confident suburban men learning a thing or two about untamed nature. It zips along at a clip and keeps one's interest throughout; it also has interesting elegiac asides that ponder the direction of late-modern civilization. But it never quite soars. It gets bogged down a bit in action sequences that quicken the pulse but don't expand the imagination much. And its depiction of Appalachian people as subhuman is one of the most revolting instances of bigotry in cinema history, right up there with "Birth of a Nation." --unfinished
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2009
An excellent and brutal thriller from John Boorman. It?s a classic, all that?s missing is Burt Reynolds?s moustache! 'Squeal like a piggy boy'!
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2009
holy freaking crap this is scary. squeal like a pig just became the most spine chilling phrase on earth for me
Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2007
A purebred classic thriller that introduces disturbing but realistic themes to cinema. The performances are all outstanding, and its easy to see why Burt Reynolds became a huge star. What happens halfway through is one of the more disturbing acts I've seen in a movie. The two villains that appear are two of the most menacing and terrifying in all the movies I've seen. Although I had some problems with the overall plot, I was able to excuse them to a large degree due to the fact that the overall movie-watching experience was enthralling and hugely entertaining.
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2009
OK, we all know what Deliverance is remembered for. Doing a simple search for images on Google proved that. We all know about "squeal like a pig" and Jon Voight having a pretty mouth. Let's get beyond that now and discuss what is a powerful film about men and nature or we can talk about urbanites vs. countryites. It doesn't matter much because this film is full of conflict.

Deliverance has one of my favorite tag lines of all time: This was the weekend they didn't play golf. What they actually did this weekend was go on a canoe trip in an undisturbed stretch of river- undisturbed for the time being because the power company is about to dam it up and create a huge lake for hydroelectric power. This is their last chance to ride real nature as they go into the mountains of Georgia amongst people who see indoor plumbing as a myth akin to man walking on the moon.

The friends consist of Lewis (Burt Reynolds) who us your typical mans man, declaring that he doesn't carry insurance because there's no risk. Most of the first half of the film is Lewis lamenting about the system and its impending failure, causing him to learn how to survive. Ed (Jon Voight) is a more laid back personality. He knows his ways around the woods but isn't hell bent on being the alpha male of the group. Ronny Cox plays Drew, a guitar playing all around nice guy who has deep moral beliefs. You can't not like the guy. Finally there's Bobby (Ned Beatty), the insurance agent that's totally out of his element in a canoe in the middle of nowhere.

Throughout the film there are sprinkled various hillbilly characters, many of which were played by the actual people in the area. This is an area that's been barely disturbed since Sherman went home, other than automobiles. It's isolated as hell to the extent that the group could have traveled to Mars. That's the first step to their downfall. As the film progressed the dread builds until Ed has to finally become an animal and kill or be killed. They realize what they've gotten into only when it's too late.

The main cast is excellent with the real stand out being Burt Reynolds in his first major role. This is probably the best role of his career as he plays Lewis to be almost Moses-like, sending down his parables on survival and life. Reynolds was born for the role of Lewis. Beatty also gives a great performance as Bobby, not because of the "pig" scene, but because of after the "pig" scene. You feel for him more in the aftermath than you do when it's happening which stands as a real testament to his portrayal.

Directed by John Boorman, Deliverance has an almost down home feel when being shot. What's fascinating about the film is who is the real villain in this film. The mountain men? The river? The boys themselves? It's hard to establish, which makes the film so damn good. Deliverance is one of those films where one piece overshadows the entire film. The title is a joke usually associated with being in the middle of nowhere amongst people without iPods and cell phones. Deliverance delivers a heart pounding weekend that slowly flows into hell.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2006
Four city slickers go on a canoeing holiday in the backwaters of Georgia when they are attacked by a pair of gun toting mountain men. This sounds like a typical stalker-horror movie, but John Boorman brings a gritty realism to it that makes it all the more disturbing. Principally about the arrogance of civilized man (or more accurately, men) the four show little regard or respect for the locals, leading to a particularly grim encounter when they are completely stripped of the control over their own lives that they previously took for granted. Burt Reynolds shaves off his trademark moustache and takes a break from redneck comedies to deliver a career best performance as the alpha male of the group as they fight for survival in a hostile environment. Most memorable for the dueling banjos (nicely showing that these "backward" people are capable of great skill) and the grimly uncomfortable "squeal piggy" scene, this film has lost some of its shock factor, but is still a powerful and gripping watch.
Super Reviewer
June 10, 2008
"I bet you can squeal like a pig."

36 years after its release and the film has not lost any of its appeal.

The performances in the movie are mesmerizing, the cast is full of talent. Ned Beatty, in his first role, does a very memorable performance as the ill fated Bobby. His facial expressions, his manners, pretty much sums up his feelings. Beatty's performace is acting at its finest.

"Now let's you just drop them pants."

The film is a perfect example on how a film doesn't need CGI, fast editing or any familiar methods of today. It relies more on long shots and a beautiful score. It's intense from start to finish and a perfect, talented cast give us career best performances.

"Deliverance" is a scary and effective film. The characters are put into a situation that no one would ever want to experience. A true masterpiece of filmmaking.
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