Saturday, October 2, 2010

Movie Review: Buried


Starring Ryan Reynolds

Directed by Rodrigo Cortes

Let's get this out of the way first - Buried is a disturbing, deeply uncomfortable film, and claustrophobic moviegoers in particular would do well to avoid it. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy, an American truck-driver working for a company in Iraq. After an attack on his unarmed convoy by insurgents, he awakens to find himself trapped in a coffin; armed with a phone, a zippo lighter, and a knife, he frantically searches for a way to escape before it becomes his tomb.

The story is compelling and the main character – an “everyman” in over his head if ever there was one – is in such a plight that the audience can't help being drawn into his shoes, almost experiencing his predicament. The film stays focused on the protagonist like a laser, never particularly deviating from its purpose. Conroy is, with a debatable exception, the only onscreen character in the movie; a large part of the movie's ability to draw the audience in so well is the fact that the interior of his coffin is the only real backdrop. This movie is about as minimalist as can be – with one actor, one backdrop, and a few voices, it's almost something that could have been made by any aspiring writer with a vision.

A fireside chat
As far as point of view goes, this film is as close as possible to being first-person without actually being first-person; it gets into the minds of viewers and makes us wonder what we would do if we were in the protagonist's position. We aren't just rooting for him to escape, we're rooting for him as if he is us. That protagonist isn't perfect; he may not even be all that moral of an individual. As the story progresses we get a look at how flawed he truly is, yet that makes him even easier to identify with. Throughout the movie we get a glimpse at how unhelpful and heartless people can be - and the reality that war zones like Iraq are places where disaster regularly happens faster than anyone can react. When Conroy starts to come to grips with the fact that he's more or less alone out there, so do we.

The often-underrated Ryan Reynolds turns in a brilliant performance in this movie, flexing his acting chops and showing us what he's capable of. With a lesser actor, Buried would have far less impact. In many ways, this film is a study in futility; one could find it depressing if not for the fact that it's also a “ticking time bomb” scenario that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats right up to the climactic final moments.

 No, that isn't Tom Hanks

This film is not for the faint of heart. That said, it has a powerful impact, one that will likely stay with viewers for a long time. It isn't the best movie of the year by any means, yet it may well be one of the most absorbing; it also contains an abundance of subtle messages that many of us can take something away from. It is ironic that the film takes place inside of a coffin, because it is really a story about life – and how much it means to us when we're in danger of losing it. I give this movie four stars out of five... it's definitely worth seeing.

Buried comes out October 8th.


  1. Ryan Reynolds? Seriously? That aside, it seems somewhat like Phonebooth, which I liked.

  2. Ryan Reynolds is Jesus.