Starring Ryan Reynolds
Written by Chris Sparling
Directed by Rodrigo Cortes
MPAA Rating R
Running time 95 min
Selig Film Scale Matinee
The thriller is one of the longest running genres of film. A slick little entertainment that chills and thrills as it spills on the audience are one of the bedrock ways of the Silver Screen. When done effectively, these flicks can still keep the audience glued in their seats, not wanting to miss a moment of the story. Adding to this rich heritage is Buried, the most claustrophobic flicks that has ever been put on the big screen.
The film starts in total darkness. Soon we find out why. Paul (Ryan Reynolds) is in a simple wooden coffin, buried under the sands of Iraq. He is a truck driver, a part of a military convoy. The group was hit and he was captured. Now, the bad guys want cash to let him go. All of this is discovered by Paul as he talks on a cell phone. The entire film takes place in the coffin, with only a lighter and a cell to give any light. The film never leaves this set, we never get any scenes of back story, all 90 minutes occur within the confines of the coffin.
Paul goes through all the stages of grief as he figures out his plight. He pleads and threatens on the phone, realizing that he must get into contact with US forces before his air and cell phone battery run out. He calls his US family, pleading with them to get help. He reflects on his situation as he does everything he can to get out. The unseen voices of his tormentors is used in a vicious fashion, just a bunch of guys who want cash.
Since Ryan Reynolds in the only actor in the piece, he has a Herculean task, to keep the audience interested in his plight. He delivers an Oscar worthy performance here, having to do all his acting with little movement and basically no one to play against. I know that some will think that he does nothing other than be trapped. That is the brilliance of the performance. He must use his voice to get across all the fear and anger. The role of Paul is the textbook definition of a 'hands down' performance. While I doubt that most of the Academy will see how difficult this role is to pull off, it is definitely deserving of an Oscar nod.
Director Rodrigo Cortes works within the greatest confines ever self-imposed on screen. By giving us nothing, he delivers everything. The suspense of the situation becomes a claustrophobic melee of emotions, never giving the audience a single beat of letting up. He just pushes every button with a madman's glee. The script by Chris Sparling becomes a masterpiece of despair, wishing the best for our character and expecting the worst
Alfred Hitchcock was one quoted as saying (and I paraphrase) that is you let off a bomb, you scare the audience for a minute but if the audience knows that the bomb is there, about to be blown, you can build suspense much longer. That is the basic premise of Buried. This is a solid suspense laden thriller where we are given all the elements to frighten and let them spill across the screen. Buried is a unique film that proves that one doesn't need a lot to make a great movie.