Buried is a claustrophobic thriller that will leave you gasping for air and remains suspenseful enough that even Hitchcock would have been proud. You can guess what the film is about from it’s title, still Rodrigo Cortes keep us engaged as Ryan Reynolds stars in his best role yet and does not fail to outperform his past roles.
Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is an American truck driver working as a contractor in Iraq who awakes in pitch darkness for nearly a minute before finding a lighter and realizes that he is buried inside a wooden coffin. As he slowly regains his consciousness, he vaguely remembers being attacked by a group of Iraqis. Searching around the coffin with his lighter in hand, he discovers something very important, a cell phone.
The cell phone discovery is crucial as it allows him to get in contact with the outside world. Like anyone would instinctively do, the first thing Paul does is try calling 911 for help. He becomes even more frantic when he gets the run-around and put on hold over and over, something we have all experienced. The signal strength is not great and frequently disconnects.
Suddenly, the phone rings and he hears the voice of his captors on the other end. They demand a $5 million dollar ransom from Paul and give him only a couple hours to do so. He begins to think who he can call to help rescue him by paying the ransom only to realistically decide that getting that ransom money is highly unlikely.
Not only is getting the money a big concern for Paul but also is the lack of oxygen. Between both him and the lighter using oxygen, it is only a matter of time before it runs out. Still, he knows time is of the essence so he uses the phone to call his wife, his employer, the FBI. Luckily, the captors left a pen with him as well, so when he calls 411 for information, he is able to write numbers down.
The most ingenious attribute of Buried is the entire film takes place in the coffin. Not a single shot from the outside, whether it be loved ones, 911 operators or captors on the other end of the phone call, are ever shown. We see nothing from flashbacks of how he got in the coffin. Nor do we see cutaways of what his captors are up to, aside from a video text he receives from them. I say ingenious because the fact that we see nothing from the outside means that we are also trapped inside the coffin.
Making a 95 minute film that takes place solely in one very small space interesting and engaging is a challenge. Buried accomplished this by providing enough action and suspense to keep you entertained throughout its entirety. The camera work in such a restrictive space and limited lighting would be challenge for any great filmmaker.
It is hard not to compare Buried to the film 127 Hours as they came out around the same time (Buried first) and share a lot of the same characteristics. In both films, you have a main character that is alone nearly the whole time in a confined area seeking to survive and get escape. Both even feature the main character forced to cut off a part of their body.
Shot in just 17 days with a relatively low-budget of 3 million dollars, Buried accomplished a lot. Considering the lack of space, lack of cast and lack of special effects it sure is loaded with suspense, thrills and solid film making. If you were unsure if Ryan Reynolds could be taken seriously as an actor, after watching this film will likely answer that question for you. Buried may not have a lot of rewatchability but the first time will leave you exhausted from the tension and suspense it creates. Look past a few minor flaws (cell phone battery life, or lack thereof) and embrace the film few could do right.