Buried (2010)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Sep 24, 2010 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - Spain , France , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

One of several films released around the same time that feature a single character trapped in a claustrophobic environment (Moon, 127 Hours), Buried takes that concept to the extreme, sealing Ryan Reynolds inside a coffin for 90 minutes. To reveal whether Reynolds has any co-stars would be fraught with spoiler implications, potentially giving away whether Paul Conroy emerges from this predicament alive. What we can say is that Reynolds, screenwriter Chris Sparling, and director Rodrigo Cortés make this scenario both more cinematic than you might expect, and less cinematic than you might hope. On the one hand, Cortés faithfully restricts himself to the gimmick; he doesn't offer cutaways, flashbacks, or other forms of escape from the cramped quarters, either for his protagonist or for his audience. Through his use of camera angles and lighting, Cortés does pull off that counterintuitive feat of creating a dynamic viewing experience. However, in order to execute this concept and give Paul enough to do for 90 minutes, Cortés asks for major suspensions of disbelief, not to mention herculean feats from such things as cell phone batteries and Zippo fuel. What makes Buried frustrating -- more frustrating than the level Cortés intends -- is how Paul uses or misuses these available resources. Instead of recognizing his utter dependence on the people he manages to contact on the phone, Paul fritters away precious battery life on aggressively complaining about their treatment of him. It's not Reynolds' fault that this makes him harder to root for -- he's only doing his director's bidding. As for failing to conserve his light sources, well, how else is the camera supposed to pick up his face? A couple smart narrative decisions notwithstanding, Buried leaves the impression of not capitalizing quite enough on Reynolds' strong performance, the result of a reportedly harrowing shoot.