FANTASTIC FEST 2010
By Dave Campbell | October 1, 2010
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Writer: Chris Sparling
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Today is not a good day for Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds). He has just woken up in a wooden box that is buried underground…but Paul isn’t ready to die today. Paul is a contracted truck driver working in Iraq with the “post war” rebuilding effort. The last thing he remembers before waking up six feet under, is his convoy being attacked by a group of insurgents in a province where they were making deliveries. Other than that he has no idea who captured him and where he is. A planted cell phone is his only lifeline to the outside world, but it also brings it’s own problems — spotty reception, a half drained battery and his captive yelling demands from an untraceable number.
Besides having the phone, Paul also has a Zippo lighter, an iffy flashlight and the contents left in his pockets. Paul must rely on his own wits to piece everything together so he can figure out how to get rescued. With only a couple hours of oxygen and time working against him, the race against time begins as Paul’s desperation puts him through every possible human emotion as he follows the orders of his tormentor, pleads with the U.S. government for help and reaches out to loved ones on the other end of the phone. Paul must take on the list of fears and limitations that face him and keep it together long enough to hopefully meet his rescuers.
Buried is essentially a man in the box, and every time I talk about it I get the Alice In Chains song stuck in my head. It may sound simple and lacking, but director Rodrigo Cortés as crafted an exciting thriller that holds your nail-biting attention throughout the approximate 94 minute running time. This delightfully stressful tale also benefits from the versatile and charming talents of Ryan Reynolds who single handily drives the picture from beginning to end by giving the performance of his career.
It’s hard not to look at a movie with a premise like this and get hung-up on the challenges and limitations that it has working against it. However, Cortés has made a tasty pitcher of lemonade out of those challenging lemons. Aside from the skilled direction of the film, the imaginative set design (various wooden boxes) really expand the atmosphere by enabling abundant camera angles in this otherwise claustrophobic environment.
Each squirmy dilemma that our main character is faced with is also kept interesting by the creative situational lighting and complementary accents from the sound and music departments. Ultimately, none of the other talents mentioned above would have been able to shine if it wasn’t for screenwriter Chris Sparling’s excellently written script for Cortés and Reynolds to thrive on. In the vein of Hitchcock, Buried is a film that embodies the true meaning of the word thriller.