Buried * * * *

Genre: Thriller

Director: Rodrigo Cortes

Writer: Chris Sparling

Cast: Ryan Reynolds

Running Length: 94 minutes

Synopsis: Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is an American working in Iraq as a non-military truck driver. Unfortunately, his convoy comes under attack and he blacks out; when he comes to, Paul discovers that he is buried alive in a wooden coffin. Fortunately, Paul discovers that he has, amongst other items, a lighter, a pencil, and a working mobile phone with half its battery life and a weak reception. Using the mobile phone, Paul desperately tries to make connections with anyone that can help him out of his predicament, but not everyone he manages to contact with the phone have his best interests at heart…

Review: It is perhaps not surprising that this movie, though starring Ryan Reynolds, was birthed not in the USA but in Spain. Very few movies made in the USA would have the audacity to try to accomplish what Rodrigo Cortes has tried to do here, but what’s even more impressive is that it works. Buried is not an easy film to watch, and it might not be even considered an entertaining film, but it manages to present its single-minded proposition with such clarity and purpose that it is impossible not to feel impressed. Rodrigo Cortes has done an amazing job (although I question his choice of denouement), and Ryan Reynolds manages to put forth what is probably his best performance to date.

Unlike most movies founded on similar “locked room” concepts (Devil is a recent example), Buried never shifts its focus from the coffin and devotes the full 94-minute running time to Ryan Reynolds and the box he is trapped in. There are no flashbacks to fill out the story, no other peripheral characters on screen (although a fair number of characters are heard via Paul’s many phone conversations), and perhaps most surprisingly, no situations that don’t work in the film’s internal logic. The film’s plot feels watertight even after the credits roll, which is quite a rare occurrence these days.

Rodrigo Cortes manages to avoid visual monotony by offering up a surprising number of camera angles and introducing new plot elements just when the film seems to settle into a comfortable (relatively) groove. This creates an excellent atmosphere for the film, and the pacing is spot on, relentlessly piling on the sense of dread, never letting up till the very end.

Ryan Reynolds is perhaps better known for his pretty boy looks and his excellent physique, but in Buried he actually puts forth a very strong performance. This being literally a one-man show, Reynolds carries the entire weight of the movie on his shoulders and yet manages to do so with great aplomb. This is not an easy role – he is confined to a small space and yet has to portray a wide gamut of emotions, ranging from fear to anger to resignation. And because Reynolds’ portrayal is so believable, it is very easy to identify with and have a vested interest in his character’s fate. 

Buried is a very intense cinematic experience which honestly isn’t for everyone – if you’re looking for the typical action thriller movie then this would not fit neatly into the mould. However, if you are willing to give the movie a chance, this could possibly be one of the best movies you’ll see this year. Even if you don’t agree, be assured that this will not be a movie that you will forget anytime soon, and in a sea of same-old, me-too movies, that in itself is a quality that’s increasingly hard to find in the theatres nowadays.

Rating:  * * * * (out of four stars)

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