In a psychological thriller worthy of Hitchcock himself, Ryan Reynolds is stuck in a coffin with very little time and no way out in Buried.
The movie is as nerve-wracking as the premise would suggest. Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a civilian truck driver working for the US Military in Iraq. When his convoy is ambushed in a remote Iraqi province he finds himself alive, unharmed, but stuck in a coffin thanks to kidnap and ransom specialists within the local Iraqi insurgency. We quickly come to realize that being trapped alive in a coffin will motivate a person to try to find the cash needed to free themselves faster than terrorists pointing guns at their head.
To pull off this kind of film you need the following three things to avoid cinematic failure: one great actor; one great director; and one great script. The movie has all three. Bravo to the artists associated with this film. How many big name actors in Hollywood would commit themselves to a major motion picture about a man trapped alive in a box for ninety minutes the way Reynolds does? Not many, and it’s that kind of uniqueness that gives this film serious caché in an all-too-drab Hollywood movie atmosphere.
Iconic director Alfred Hitchcock made a name for himself with this kind of film, and that is why his work lives on. By taking the camera and focusing it exclusively on the actor while also using a device like a phone or a “rear window” in order to peer in on the rest of the world and it’s machinations, absolutely marvelous theater results; in the process the actor must then either try to rejoin that world or retreat from it. Any actor who is anything less than 100% authentic will destroy such a movie, as the audience’s attention is focused exclusively on them for cues about what is important, what is funny, and what is life threatening. It is a recipe for heart-stopping cinema and Buried director Rodrigo Cortés cooks it up beautifully while Ryan Reynolds delivers the goods.
The plot of this film would not have worked, however, without cell phone technology. It allows for voice and video communication from even the most remote parts of the world, back to the comforts of home (and help). Much of the movie has Reynolds’s character interacting with people in his personal life back in the United States via cell phone from the coffin. Relationships play out on screen with only Reynolds on his cell phone: that’s it. He is both emotionally connected and physically detached, unable to adequately convey to his friends, loved ones, and his enemies—petty or otherwise—what kind of hell he is enduring.
While not for the faint of heart, Buried is a movie worth watching. It is out now on DVD and the Blu-Ray edition gives fresh menace to the confines of the coffin in which Reynolds’s character finds himself. If you are looking for a good film thriller to spend an evening with, then go ahead and get Buried.