If there were any true justice in the world the film Buried would be recognized for the riveting acting performance by none other than Ryan Reynolds. Normally, I would never really recommend a Ryan Reynolds film as strongly as I recommend this one, but seriously...the film is about a guy who wakes up trapped in a wooden box several feet underground. There's nothing else. No special effects, no hot naked girls running from an imminent death, no loud car chases through the streets of Prague, no CGI robot fights, no zombies reenacting an old west shoot-out. What it does have is approximately 90 minutes of Paul Conroy fighting for his life.
Buried opens with the aforementioned Paul Conroy (Reynolds) waking up in a crude coffin. Disoriented, Paul scrambles to find out what in the Jesus Christ is going on here. He discovers a zippo lighter, a cellphone and a pencil. It is revealed that Paul was part of a truck convey delivering goods in Iraq when he was suddenly ambushed by some local terrorists where most of his convoy were either killed or tortured and he was rendered unconscious and finally buried somewhere in the desert. The film's only "costars" are voices provided by the sinister terrorist responsible for Paul's situation and a man named Dan Brenner, a hostage specialist working on saving the day. There are other people Paul ends up calling including his wife, who he's been trying to reach all godamn day mostly played in voicemail format by the elusive Samantha Mathis. It turns out that the terrorist buried Paul in hopes of scoring a ransom of 5 million big ones.
The film unravels in a masterful Hitchcockian kind of way thanks to the direction of Rodrigo Cortes, who will be helming a thriller called Red Lights next starring Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver. The man knows suspense. He's basically the other star of the film. Much like the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, he utilizes every moment to squeeze out "edge of your seat" tension and finds eerie unease within the quiet moments. No other film in the past year will deliver genuine thrills and anguish like Buried does. I believe that had the film garnered more interest by the masses, Ryan Reynolds' name might be in the Oscar discussion. An incredible feat given the actor's resume. While he has shown shades of his true talents in past films, it is in this film where he crosses over and really displays an undeniable talent of bare bones acting. Much in the same way that Natalie Portman is being acknowledged for her Black Swan performance now.
Buried is so good, it'll make you forget about how obvious the twist ending is. I won't spoil it for you, but amidst the frantic running time of the film, I got so caught up within the claustrophobic premise that was presented I figured out the ending in the third act and hoped for a different resolution. It's not a bad one...it's just not the one I had hoped for....and I can't really fault the film for that. I just felt like Buried had so much going for it in its small scale and the way it sort of deviated away from traditional convention, I was looking for the ending to blow me away. It didn't. But, it definitely isn't the kind of twist that will take away from the overall experience of what the film offered. The experience of being trapped in a box underneath the Iraqi dirt trying to find a way out of the hell you were put in...all the while hoping and praying that your cynicism will eventually turn into salvation.
It's not a film for everyone. Especially those that for many reasons might hate Ryan Reynolds. But, then again, it isn't really a film for the Ryan Reynolds fan club set, either. It is a film for those who enjoy a good performance stripped down to its core without any of the usual movie trappings that encompass bigger budget affairs. It is a landmark in a young actor's career who has found himself pigeon-holed in the usual smart-ass hunk lead who can't find anything other than comic book films and Sandra Bullock date movies to star in anymore. Unfortunately, the film went unnoticed in theaters. But, hopefully you will notice it in the comfort of your home.
The DVD continues the "bare-bones" theme with its lack of extras and commentaries. I would've enjoyed an alternate ending...or perhaps a behind-the-scenes look at some of the voice actors acting out their roles. Instead you are given a few trailers and a scant documentary on how they filmed the movie so quickly as well as the multiple coffins they used in the film. It would have been nice to pepper the DVD with much more content given the stripped down nature of the film itself.
In the end, Buried is a worthwhile trip into the claustrophobia of a dire premise and a trip into a young actor's abilities to actually pull out a knock out performance that sheds him of the Van Wilder days for good. Or at least until The Proposal sequel hits theaters.
8.5 out of 10.
Thanks for reading,