October 17, 2010

Movie Review: Buried (2010)

buried_ver3When I first heard about this movie, it was a concept that I'd believe when I saw it. It is not that I thought it was a bad idea, it is just an idea I did not think would get made with any sort of money or star power or get anywhere near a big screen. At most I figured it would be a micro budget type of feature that would land on DVD at some time in the future, some point after I had forgotten about it never to be heard of again. Well, color me surprised to discover it not only got made, but stars Ryan Reynolds and actually made it to the big screen. On top of that it has proven to be an extraordinary thriller that will keep you riveted through the final moments and leave you silent and gasping for air in its aftermath.

No, not everyone is going to react that way to seeing it, but believe me this is a simple concept executed extremely well. It is the sort of movie that you have to wonder going in just how they are going to do it and keep the story involving not to mention the visuals. With such a limited scope and cast it could not have been an easy task to design and execute a visually interesting production, but here we are.

Ryan Reynolds is Paul Conroy, a contract worker driving trucks in Iraq. He is not a soldier, does not carry a gun, and does not particularly want to be there but needs the work for his family. We do not see any of those things but we do learn about them over the course of the 100-minute movie.

I am going to avoid telling you what happens during the film, to do so would prevent its magic from working on you. It is ingeniously executed and involving the entire run through.


The plot finds Paul waking up in an old school wood coffin, buried somewhere in Iraq. In the box Paul has a Zippo lighter and a Blackberry cell phone. These items help him retain his sanity and create a link to the outside world. He makes calls, calls are made to him, tensions rise, all adding to an emotional roller coaster.

Director Rodrigo Cortes does a fantastic job of keeping the movie's pace fast. Considering that you are literally in the box with Reynolds for the entire film that has to mean something. Cortes does a lot with angles, quick cuts, and camera placement that you never get too bored with any one shot. Add to that the two light sources (Zippo and Blackberry) and you get two different color light sources to add to the variety. Buried is carefully constructed and looks fantastic. There is a flow and build that effectively ramps up necessary tension just when it is needed most.


In addition to the good direction, the screenplay is no slouch either. Chris Sparling has crafted a fine screenplay. It has an underlying reality that is palpable. There is something about Buried that feels a little "slice of life." It plays out in a way that feels real. I am sure upon closer inspection some inconsistencies could be picked at, but that matters not as it is more about the experience as it happens. The writing truly works.

The third piece of the puzzle, possibly the most important is the acting. Ryan Reynolds is on the screen 100% of the time and he makes the most of it. I daresay this may be a high water mark in his career. He may not be the greatest of actors but he has the skill to be convincing in a variety of roles and genres and he makes the most of it here. His Paul Conroy is scared, terrified, frustrated, angry, resigned, sad, elated, and probably a few others I haven't thought to mention. He is the element that brings this whole thing together. It is an intense performance.

Bottomline. Buried is an exceptional film. It is built on a high concept that could not have been easy to develop as a feature length film. It uses its one location to great, claustrophobic effect, it puts the audience right there in the box for the duration and does not let you out, it does not allow the tension to resolve itself until the moment when it is needed. The movie builds and builds to a breathtaking climax. Excellent.

Highly Recommended.

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mary_althene said...

just watched it about 5 minutes ago.. still, i'm speechless.. i finished it until the end of the credits portion because i still wasn't able to move lying on my bed after the last scene. just staring at the screen.. and then i smiled. what a great movie! magnifico!

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