Oxygen (1999)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A police detective is on the trail of a psychopath while dealing with demons of her own in the crime thriller Oxygen. Madeline Foster (Maura Tierney) is a plainclothes detective with the NYPD who isn't especially happy with her job. She drowns her sorrows in alcohol and masochistic sex, though even her husband (Terry Kinney) is unaware of the full extent of her erotic obsessions. Madeline finds herself assigned to investigate an unusual kidnapping; Frances (Laila Robins), the wife of a prosperous businessman (James Naughton), has been kidnapped and buried alive. The perpetrators demand the ransom be paid within 24 hours, or the air will run out and Frances will be dead. Madeline surmises that the kidnapper is a career criminal known to the NYPD as "Harry Houdini" (Adrien Brody) for his remarkable ability to escape capture. It soon becomes clear that "Harry" knows who Madeline is, and for him this isn't an ordinary kidnapping but an elaborate psychological game; he is convinced they are alike in more ways than they're different, which makes it all the more fascinating for him. Oxygen received screenings at several 1999 film festivals, including Taos, Gen-Art and Cannes (market); it was later purchased by premium cable network HBO, who showed the film before it went into a limited theatrical run.
R (violence, language)
Action & Adventure , Drama , Horror , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Unapix Entertainment


Maura Tierney
as Madeline
Laila Robins
as Frances
Paul Calderon
as Jessie
Dylan Baker
as Jackson
Tim Kirkman
as Terry Kinney
Olek Krupa
as Madeline's Lover
Frankie Faison
as Phil Kline
Slavko Stimac
as Jerome Jerzy
Robert Shepard
as Sal the Bartender
Eddie Perez
as Scary Guy
Gene Canfield
as Joe the Cop
Christopher James Quinn
as Chris the Cop
Judy Goldschmidt
as Judy the Cop
Bernard McClain
as Byron the Cop
Edmond Genest
as Sarcastic Dentist
Ernie Blackman
as Dentist No. 2
Ted Neustadt
as FBI Agent No. 1
Bruno Gidello
as FBI Agent No. 2
Timothy D. Orr
as Helicopter Pilot
William Richards
as Helicopter Pilot
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Oxygen

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (2)

Tierney definitely has what it takes to carry a film; it's unfortunate that this vehicle doesn't give her much of substance to carry.

Full Review… | October 22, 2006

Writer/director Richard Shepard manages a skilled, brilliantly-acted thriller with plenty of genuine suspense and fresh ideas.

Full Review… | May 25, 2006
Combustible Celluloid

A well-performed, well-written edge of the seat thriller

March 30, 2005

Brody gives the performance of his career, so far.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Quote not available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Quote not available.

Full Review… | December 31, 2010
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Oxygen

Oxygen (Richard Shepard, 1999) [originally posted 13Jul2000] You knew I couldn't get through a post this long without at least one thoroughly awful review. Welcome to it. This has a fine premise to it, I must say. A sociopath (Adrien Brody) kidnaps the claustrophobic wife of a millionaire and buries her in a box with about a day's worth of oxygen. A husband-and-wife cop team (Terry Kinney, Maura Tierney) have about that much time to figure out where she's buried. Brody was the only thing worth watching in Summer of Sam. Tierney does well in almost everything. Same with James Naughton, who plays the millionaire, and Paul Calderon as Tierney's on-again off-again partner. But this is bad. Bad, bad, bad. Despite wonderful sociopathy by Brody-once again the only decent thing about the flick (that's starting to become a refrain with me)-a number of subplots are started and never finished, no suspense is ever built up, the relationship between Tierney and her onscreen husband is just silly, the cliched battles between the cops and the bottle are trotted out with absolutely nothing new. All in all it's a jumbled, silly, unwatchable mess that should have been left on the cutting room floor. If you've got two hours to kill, spend them with Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead instead. *

Robert Beveridge
Robert Beveridge

I'm often asked why I waste my time watching independant films. It's true, that many of them are a complete waste of time, but what I really enjoy about them is that it gives people the freedom to do what they want, without Hollywood turning it into something it's not, and occasionally, I find a movie like Oxygen. This film was just your ordinary story of the police fighting against the clock and an insane criminal, who gets off on fucking with them. It had a few twists here and there, but in general it was a very basic story, however what I did focus my attention on was the cast. Being that it's an independent film, two performers who I really enjoy watching, got to step away from their usual roles and try something different. Maura Tierney is usually cast as the emotionless girl with a troubled past, but in Oxygen, she's this crazy, self-loathing, tough as nails cop, who wears her emotions on her sleeve. She's opposed by Adrien Brody who usually plays the sweet, good-looking, exotic stranger, but not this time. In this film, Brody is a deranged psychopath who will do anything and everything to get what he wants. The dynamic and chemistry were both fantastic and I loved seeing two actors, that I know very well, step away from their usual roles and work on something different. If I hadn't seen both stars in a ton of things prior to this, I may not have been as entertained by this film, as the story is common, and very little is unpredictable, however the performances were tremendous and Tiereny and Brody compliment each other perfectly.

Todd Smith
Todd Smith

Super Reviewer

CAST: Maura Tierney, Adrien Brody, Terry Kinney, James Naughton, Laila Robins, Dylan Baker, Paul Calderon DIRECTED BY: Richard Shepard SUMMARY: This made-for-cable mystery thriller stars Adrian Brody as an escape artist-kidnapper whose method of torture involves burying his prey alive. When he strikes again, Maura Tierney is the policewoman who must track down Brody within 24 hours before he lets the air out of another one of his victims' hiding places. MY THOUGHTS; "It is definitely like a nightmare come true, being buried alive... This movie was good.. It's got Adrien Brody, who in my opinion played bad very good.. Didn't really look like he could pull it off to me.. But he ended up proving me wrong.. I say his portrayal of his character is what kept this movie afloat.. There was a bit of over acting from Terry Kinney, or maybe I just didn't like his portrayal of the husband. Just didn't seem to fit. Maura Tierney was good as the dark cop. All in all it wasn't a bad watch to find flipping through the TV today. I am still a bit worried that I thought the part where they found the dog was funny? I don't know, I just found Adrien to be a funny psychopath. Anyways, this movie is worth the watch if you come across it."


Super Reviewer

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