'vicious bear'

The public has always been attracted, almost supernaturally, to those films based on incredible real events. Despite being used to seeing the craziest and most impossible fictions, nothing shocks us more than a fact that hallucinates us based on some real event. There is, for example, the persecution on the edge of the legality of ‘Catch me if you can’, the tsunami of ‘The Impossible’, the Kennedy assassination of ‘JFK (Cold Case)’ or an evasion as improbable as that of ‘Escape of Alcatraz’.

The fact that reality is stranger than fiction continues to surprise us in such a way that we even overlook any license or distance that is taken with respect to the real fact, as could happen with ‘Dunkirk’ or even ‘Citizen Kane’, since we understand that any modification aims to adapt that story into manageable cinematic terms. It is also the case, of course, with ‘Vicious bear’, the surreal project that features a gigantic bear that sniffed several packages of cocaine to later claim a few victims.

Since the beginning of 2021 – when the project was announced – disbelief and skepticism were rampant everywhere. Also a strange sensation to see what would come out of there. The story on which it is based has become well-known. In 1985, Andrew Thorton, a former narcotics officer turned drug dealer, was flying over a Kentucky woods when he dropped several packets of cocaine inside.. When he had emptied the plane, he himself left the vehicle but, after a failure in the parachute, he died during the jump. This is the starting point of ‘Vicious Bear’, Universal Pictures’ new commitment to bring a fresh and surprising story that is at the Antipodes of all current proposals on the billboard. Already the translation of the title into Spanish is a full-fledged declaration of intent.

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In command of this project is Elizabeth Banks, the director of the riddled remake of ‘Charlie’s Angels’. After that despised product, the director thought that she would never direct again. However, with ‘Vicious Bear’ she counted on what could be a new suicidal bet for her career. Nothing could be further from the truth, taking into account the great work she does. Much of this is to blame for the brutal cast that she has, full of familiar faces but free of a leading star that outshines the rest.

Even so, the tape is marked on a sentimental level by the contrary between its ranks with Ray Liotta. The legendary actor appears as a mobster in what would be one of his last roles before his sad death. The team is completed by the producer Lord Miller, led by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, one of the most prolific creative couples in recent years, as they have works such as ‘Breakfast in Class’ or ‘The LEGO Movie’, as well as producing ‘Han Solo: A Star Wars Story’ or the animated hit from ‘Spider-Man: A New Universe’.

'vicious bear'

With all this great team behind it, ‘Oso vicioso’ stands proud for its ridiculous and pathetic condition in the premise and in the treatment. Taking this as a starting point, Banks and company had a free hand to imagine everything that could have happened as a result of that gigantic animal, and they do intelligently interspersing a self-awareness typical of a ‘Deadpool’ movie with a brutal and hilarious gore that borders on the B series at times (more in its vital pathos than in any aesthetic seam).

‘Vicious bear’ intersperses a lot of absurd comedy with a worked suspense, a festival of blood and severed limbs, hilarious action and very interesting touches of terror. In short, an atypical and crazy thriller that encompasses different patterns for which it is tremendously commendable.

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From Tarantino to the Coens

One of the biggest challenges was to recreate that demonic and hysterical bear without falling into parody or caricature. Banks dodges that obstacle doing a fabulous animal, mixing CGI with practical effects to achieve a hyper-realistic visual style closer to documentary than one might expect of a film with these conditions. But, despite the bear and the consequent chaos that it leaves behind, the cast brilliantly complements that other side of the story that is less friendly and, at the same time, more fun.

'vicious bear'

Keri Russell embodies that all-powerful mother who would do anything to save her daughter. When she and a friend of hers disappear, she will do everything possible to keep them safe, in a sort of heroine in the style of Sigourney Weaver in ‘Aliens: the return’. For their part, Alden Ehrenreich and O’Shea Jackson Jr. make up a hilarious dynamic duo, with personalities totally distant from each other; they will be at the service of Liotta’s mafia character, in a sort of spiritual and posthumous sequel to Henry Hill’s ‘Goodfellas’.

The rest of the characters, such as Margo Martindale, Jesse Tyler Ferguson or Kristofer Hivju, do not stop representing that necessary cannon fodder that will make you rage with their insufferable suggestions or laugh with their pleasant suffering. The genius that Banks finds is in intertwining the stories of these characters in the most random way possible, like in ‘Fargo’ or ‘The Big Lebowski’ by the Coen Brothers, while he spices everything up with the most absurd and hilarious situations possible, like practically any of Quentin Tarantino’s.

let hollywood take note

Why is a movie about a hulking bear that snorts cocaine and kills people an example? Very easy. To begin with, because it is an original work (based on true events, yes, but with many licences), one of those that are scarce in today’s Hollywood. And it is also a story without before or after, self-conclusive, and only 90 minutes long -which, with the current panorama, is also appreciated-. It is a compendium of good ideas and effective solutions when it comes to taking advantage of its ridiculous potential, a work that does not intend to reflect on anything but, rather, aims to laugh at the stigmas that could fly over it at first.

'vicious bear'

It could have been a ‘Jaws’ style movie, a bloodthirsty super predator taking revenge on humans because they have somehow infested an ecosystem that is rightfully theirs. He could have wasted time and energy trying to build a powerful family story about a mother saving her child. Nothing of that. ‘Vicious bear’ does not separate from the extravagance of true history and flows along those paths that any good person would have fantasized in their mind. She does not make the mistake of taking herself too seriously and, instead, she decides to criticize the rural posturing of those people who go to the mountains to play antics or pretend a false love for nature and its flora.

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We need more films like ‘Vicious Bear’, that they know how to laugh at themselves, that they do not try to change your life, that they do not extend their footage until after three hours, that they do not become pretentious. Ultimately, they are a splendid entertainment away from the typical blockbuster. Let’s hope that Elizabeth Banks’ career will only go up from ‘Vicious Bear’. She deserves it.


The best: His starting point, the self-conscious and surreal tone. That bear.

The worst: That it is taken seriously. It doesn’t leave too much residue.


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