Film Review – Buried

Buried (M)

Directed by: Rodrigo Cortes

Starring: Ryan Reynolds

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright


Buried is about a guy lying in a box for 90 minutes. Sounds boring, right? But remember, Joel Schumacher gave it whirl a few years ago by sticking Colin Farrell in glass casing on a New York street in Phone Booth and managed to turn it into a tense thriller with moralistic undertones to give it some weight. So we know it can be done.

There are several crucial differences though this time around. There are no windows in this box. There is no hustle and bustle outside this box, no Times Square buzzing with activity, mouthy prostitutes, angry pimps or a collection of cops with their guns cocked. There are no news crews, no cameras and this time, there is no visible sign of help.
Buried director Rodgrigo Cortes has given himself tighter and stricter boundaries but fortunately for audiences he likes to think outside the box without ever actually going outside the box for this taught and claustrophobic thriller.
Paul Conry (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up in a wooden box with a mobile phone, a couple of glow sticks, a lighter and a pen. Through panicked phone calls to numerous American authorities desperately looking for help, we discover he is a contract truck driver working in Iraq. His convoy was ambushed and the next thing he knows he is trapped underground in a coffin with barely enough room to roll over.

Phone calls from an anonymous man with a middle eastern accent demands he pays millions of dollars otherwise he stays in the box and dies. But Paul is just an innocent blue collar man in the wrong place at the wrong time. He has no political ties, no money and the battery life bars on his phone are disappearing one by one. His situation looks grim.

And grim is a fair way to describe Buried. It is claustrophobic, tense, relentless and almost unbearable at times. In an effort to keep the suspense at almost unbearable levels, Cortes has made the conscious decision to never cut away from that barely lit box.
Despite uncomfortable political undertones (I am not sure poltics was the way to go with this concept, it could have worked just as well with other motivations), Buried is worth seeing with imaginative direction given the restrictions of the set-up.  No two shots seem to be the same.
Reynolds, who has mostly gotten on my nerves with his smart alecky movie persona, is a revelation. He slips in a couple of quips but mostly gives a raw performance – you really feel his panic and desperation right until the jaw dropping end.

Hopefully, this impressive film will not be buried in DVD collections or movie lovers’ memories.

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