Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés
Written by: Chris Sparling
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, José Luis García Pérez and Robert Paterson
If you’re claustrophobic, and you don’t like Ryan Reynolds, Buried might have you gasping for air. Set entirely in a coffin, a few feet under ground, somewhere in Iraq, Buried is a thriller that uses its physical limitations cleverly – finding interesting visual ways to escalate the torturous panic and frustration our protagonist endures. When it comes to story, however, the gripping premise that opened the film slowly slips into moral attacks at bureaucratic fatheads with cheap, convenient turns in the plot. That, and Ryan Reynold’s capacity for expressing desperation is about as limited as the coffin he’s in.
Paul Conroy (Reynolds) awakes bound and gagged in a dark coffin. In his pockets, he has: a lighter, an empty wallet and a hip flask. What his kidnappers leave him is a cellphone.
Up to there,Buried is thrilling, and taps into the universal fear of being buried alive. In the simplicity of the situation, and the sparseness of Paul’s survival tools, the audience’s attention is captured and we expect the coming 94 minutes to be difficult to sit through.
But as the story progresses, a lot of developments unconvincingly steer Buried into one man’s fight against Washington, terrorists and some weird sister-in-law who is very unhelpful. The tricks that are employed to keep our tension high seem to come out of nowhere and fail to surprise us genuinely or add anything to the plot. Instead, the film tries too hard to push an agenda as a blue-collar truck driver, with two kids, and not much to leave in his will, ultimately gets fucked by the U.S. bureaucrats who don’t care too much for the individual.
Buried is bold and interesting because of its uncompromising decision to stay contained in the box. But to some degree, I wish they had thought more outside of it.
Or – if only this happened…