Jon Voight stars as Eddie, an Everyman who has to become extraordinary when faced with extraordinary events. To think it was all supposed to be so simple… Eddie let himself be convinced by his buddy Louie (Burt Reynolds) to go on a canoe trip down a wild river deep in the woods. That strip of nature is about to be destroyed by machines and corporations in order to built up a barrage. Louie thinks this is their last opportunity to get back to their roots, to return to nature before its too late. They bring along fat and clumsy Bobby (Ned Beatty) as well as guitar playing Drew (Ronny Cox), who are also regular Joes from the city. And for a while, this is a wonderful experience. Away from civilization, the bonding men re-discover the purity and beauty of nature, and paddling through the rapids is quite thrilling. But when their path is crossed by a pair of messed up rednecks, their journey becomes a nightmare as they learn how ruthless nature can be.

Oh, this is truly a classic. The film is expertly directed by John Boorman, based on a novel by James Dickey. The film may seem slow at first, but it’s actually masterfully paced. Boorman makes you believe he’s involving you in a nature-oriented male bonding tale, and then he hits you with disturbing and thought-provoking twists and takes you someplace else. The film is beautifully shot, and the score is unforgettable. And if the most overwhelming thing in the film is the grandeur of nature, it still features some great performances. Hot from “Midnight Cowboy”, Voight impresses again as the moral center of the story, struggling between staying a law abiding citizen and plain survival. Beatty’s character goes through some really messed up situations too, and it must have been difficult to act but he does a good job. Cox’ most memorable scene has got to be when he plays guitar with a mongoloid kid with a banjo, but he also shows some real intensity. Yet the most surprising turn has got to be Burt Reynolds’. Being used to see him in schlock, I was struck to see him in a serious role (even though he wears leather and hunts with a crossbow). “Deliverance” is a chilling, assured film about how modern man has grown so far from nature that he’s unsuited to its rigors.