"Your ransom video already has 47,000 hits on Youtube."
In a period where big budget and special effects laden pictures are dominating the landscape, it's extremely rare to see a project that adheres to such a minimalist movement. Especially one that's able to seek an audience. You'd be hard-pressed to find a film that better suits that criteria than Rodrigo Cortés' BURIED. Going into it, I'd heard chatter of how it had only one actor (Ryan Reynolds) in one setting (a coffin), but it's still startling to behold because a) the rumors are true, and b) it succeeds so highly.
BURIED is the tale of Paul Conroy (Reynolds), a US truck driver who delivers materials in Iraq. Conroy's convoy is attacked--most of the men are killed--the aftermath results in him being trapped inside a wooden box in an undisclosed location. The premise is simple, and eerily effective. There is a constant feeling of dread and of course claustrophobia that emanates from every shaken glance and labored word. Cortés confines us along with Conroy; we feel just as hopeless as he.
Pockets are searched: a knife, a lighter, lighter fluid, a cell phone are found. A call from the terrorists who imprisoned him breaks the silence. They demand five million in ransom or Paul will die. The sum is later reduced to one million, but it remains fruitless. One million or one thousand, it matters not; Paul only has $700 in his bank account, and as we all know, the US doesn't negotiate with extremists. The impending threat of suffocation is only trumped by the dwindling cell battery life. (Even more amazing is the fact that he can receive calls while covered by multiple feet of earth, while I can periodically lose service walking around the streets of Manhattan.)
Ryan Reynold is very good here, and he has to be. He is painfully believable as a man facing his possible demise. Reynolds himself was hesitant to take the part, but after reading the script he trusted in what Cortés had envisioned; both men should be applauded for their efforts in keeping peoples attention for ninety minutes. Specific plot points are thrown in to sever the monotony (the emergence of a serpent, calls from the people attempting to locate him), but for the most part Paul is alone, and his static journey is a captivating one.
Reynolds initially burst onto the scene with good lucks and forgettable comedies. He has honed his craft with some bold selections in recent memory. In BURIED, during a short seventeen day shoot in Barcelona, he and his director have managed to create a modern day Hitchcockian thriller. It has its flaws, but it miraculously manages to entrance on the strengths of one person in a single location. While underground, we are still able to visualize the world outside as it coincides with the frenzied search. You will empathize with this entombed man; after the credits roll, nothing will feel better than to step outside and take a breath of fresh air.