out of Five
Running time: 95
Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a genuinely suspenseful, emotionally engaging thriller with a terrific performance from Ryan Reynolds.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Rodrigo Cortes, Buried stars Ryan Reynolds as Iraq-based driver and private contractor Paul Conroy, who wakes up in a coffin-shaped wooden box after a surprise attack on the road. After fumbling around with a lighter, Paul discovers a mobile phone and soon he's being contacted by the kidnapper (Perez), who demands that he film his own ransom video.
In desperation, Paul contacts emergency services and his company's emergency manager (Stephen Tobolowsky) before being put through to a government agent (Robert Paterson) who promises to help. However, time is running out: the air supply is dwindling, the kidnappers have ways of ensuring that Paul complies with their demands and there's also the small matter of a snake in the box ...
Reynolds delivers a terrific performance under what must have been some pretty gruelling filming conditions. There aren't too many actors who could hold your attention throughout 95 minutes of being trapped in a box, but Reynolds manages it, though for obvious reasons, his trademarked sarcastic wise-cracking is kept to a bare minimum.
The script is excellent, paying out the details gradually via Paul's various conversations and maintaining tension in a variety of different ways. Needless to say, this is a not a film for claustrophobics, but the script cleverly uses different devices to heighten the suspense still further, whether it's the obvious idea of losing a mobile signal at a crucial moment or the more unexpected moments, such as one of the people on the phone already knowing Paul's name or the content of a video message.
Cortes' direction is extremely inventive throughout and it's to his credit that the entire film does indeed take place inside the box – there are no flashbacks or dream sequences and the closest you ever get to leaving the box is an arty pull back to reveal the total blackness surrounding the coffin. Perhaps the strangest thing is that the film is actually shot, edited and scored like an action movie in places – particularly the show-stopping sequence with the snake (though the appearance of the snake does involve a small amount of suspension of disbelief).
Buried is an extremely enjoyable thriller that pretty much delivers everything you could want from a film about Ryan Reynolds in a box. Recommended.