'Buried' is a tight, psychological thriller

Friday, February 4, 2011


Film Critic

Imagine waking to find you're buried in a primitive coffin with only a lighter and a cell phone at your disposal. That's the reality facing Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), a U.S. contracted truck driver in Iraq, and his time is running out.

Paul wants only one thing -- to provide for his family. He takes a job in Iraq hauling supplies, but when insurgents engage his convoy, Paul is the only one left alive and is buried with only a large sum of money standing between him and freedom.

After finding the cell phone, Paul attempts to call the FBI, his wife and employer. He finally gets in touch with the FBI and informs them of his situation, but soon his kidnapper is on the phone demanding $5 million dollars for his release.

Paul is soon contacted by his employer, who instructs him to speak with a group, led by Dan Brenner, whose job it is to find kidnapped victims. As Paul's desperation grows, Brenner reassures him that he's faced situations like this before and brought the people home alive.

The tension continues to mount as his kidnapper instructs Paul to make a ransom video. He hesitates at first, but when a video of his co-worker is sent to him, showing her being killed by the kidnappers, he gives in.

If that wasn't bad enough, Paul is contacted by his employer and informed that he has been terminated. With his time running out, he calls his mother, who suffers from dementia. He begins to tear up as she can't remember who his is and talks about playing bridge with his father who is deceased.

Shortly thereafter, the sounds of air strikes above leave his coffin shaking violently. As the sand begins pouring in, Paul is contacted by Brenner informing him of the air strikes and that a team has roughly pinned down his location, but are still searching.

With time running out, Paul records his last will and testament on the phone, but is interrupted by Brenner telling him they are on their way. A local insurgent has informed them of a buried American. Paul receives a call from his wife at the same time and tells her the good news.

As the sand begins to creep closer around his face, Brenner excitedly tells Paul the men are digging and will free him soon. However, Paul can't hear any sounds and when he hears Brenner gasp, he wonders what his ultimate fate will be.

Talk about overlooked performances of the year. I heard little about Reynolds' performance in "Buried," but he gives one of the finest performances of 2010. He's the only person you see on screen for its 94-minute run time and there's not a moment he wastes. The disc also has a nice behind the scenes featurette to check out.

Final Cut: The film has a Hitchcockian feel to it and is one of the most intense rides I had with a movie all year. If you're claustrophobic, you're in for an uncomfortable night.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Starring: Ryan Reynolds

Director: Rodrigo Cortes

Running Time: 94 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Language and some violent content

Available now on DVD and Blu-ray