Review: Buried

Starring: Ryan Reynolds

Director: Rodrigo Cortés

Iraq based Truck driver Paul Conroy wakes up in the dark. He flicks on his lighter to find himself buried in a wooden coffin, with a cell phone and a torch. What follows is a race against time as Paul tries desperately to find out why he is there, and get himself rescued.

The last movie I reviewed was Devil, a movie set almost entirely in an elevator. Almost entirely, that is. Going one step further, Buried manages to contain its entire 90-minute running time within the confines of a small, wooden coffin. That it does this without once slipping into tedium is nothing short of a miracle. This success is achieved due to two things: Rodrigo Cortés’ direction and Ryan Reynolds performance. Without these two aspects working in tandem, Buried would have failed miserably.

Logically, it should be very easy to hate Ryan Reynolds. The guy is successful, good-looking and has the kind of abs you usually only see in a Marvel comic, but what he also has is an easy-going charm that, to-date, has defined his work. It’s a huge credit to him then that he ditches the reliance on all the above when called on to carry an entire movie alone. For 90 minutes Reynolds is dirty, crazed, barely visible and utterly convincing. Rodrigo Cortés, in only his second feature, does a fantastic job of keeping things visually interesting given the confines he has to work with and squeezes every ounce of claustrophobia from those confines. Within 10 minutes of Buried’s opening, you feel as if you are laying in that coffin yourself. By the end, you just want to run outside and kiss the ground.

Another thing that makes Buried stand out is the plot itself. While it would have been fairly easy to stick to familiar thriller territory when dealing with the reasons why Paul Conroy was buried alive, the decision to place him and the events surrounding him in occupied Iraq allows the movie to make some small comment on the state of affairs in Saddam’s former country. While this may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s a brave move and one which screenwriter Chris Sparling never allows to become preachy or overwhelm the action.

A coffin in Iraq, where the reception is better than in Epsom, Surrey

Buried is one of those movies where everything that has to work does work. A career-best turn from Reynolds should see him emerge from the cocky-wiseguy shtick into more accomplished roles and Cortés will be one to watch in the future. If there is a downside to this movie, it is only that it perhaps signposts the final outcome a little too clearly, but at least it is the outcome the movie deserves. Much recommended.

Rating - 4 Stars

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7 people thought reading “Review: Buried” would be a good idea. Stranger still, they left messages...

  1. Margaret Reyes Dempsey

    “A coffin in Iraq, where the reception is better than in Epsom, Surrey”

    And that’s surprising because…? :-P

    I can’t imagine how they made 90 minutes in a coffin interesting. What would be really interesting is watching a group of claustrophobics watch this one. I know I must have been quite entertaining to anyone observing my viewing of Open Water. ;-)

    Reply
  2. joem18b

    I liked this one ok, except for 3 little things:

    1. I flip out in an MRI machine, or even a CT scanner, so I’ve definitely got an enclosure problem. I’ve seen movies like “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” and “44 Inch Chest,” wherein a character is tied up, and I was sort of bothered – but not by “Buried.” Hmm.

    2. Uma in the coffin, that one made me sweat a little.

    3. Stephen Tobolowsky calling Reynolds made me smile, as I listen to his podcast all the time.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      I don’t really suffer too much from enclosure issues, and Buried didn’t get me that way. One movie that did have me feeling claustrophobic, though, was The Descent.

      Stephen Tobolowsky will always be Ned Ryerson to me. I didn’t even know he had a podcast.

      Reply
  3. joem18b

    “The Tobolowsky Files,” which I subscribed to on iTunes. The man has innumerable stories about the industry, having been in innumerable movies that I’ve never heard of.

    If you’ve got a guy buried in a box, going bananas with fear, you don’t want Ned Ryerson calling him – especially a mean Ryerson who instead of selling him insurance is canceling it all…

    Reply
  4. Margaret Reyes Dempsey

    Watched this one a few weeks ago. It was surprisingly entertaining considering the set. There were some moments I laughed out loud and I wonder if that was intended. One question, why do you need a cigarette lighter to view your cellphone screen?

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Maybe he had the phone lights dimmed to save power? Huh? Huh? Or something. I don’t know.

      Reply

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