Buried tells the story of Paul Conroy (played by Ryan Reynolds) an American truck driver in Iraq whose convoy is attacked by Iraqi insurgents. Rather than simply kill him, they abduct and bury him in a wooden box several feet below the desert. His kidnappers leave him with a pencil, a Zippo, a Blackberry and some instructions for what they want him to do. If I told you any more, it wouldn't be fair because part of the fun of this movie is discovering things as Paul does. Suffice to say, we are just as stuck in the coffin as he is, only hearing what he hears through the phone and never leaving the coffin to get another point of view.
Ryan Reynolds acts the holy hell out of this movie, delivering a dramatic performance so electrifying and immediate that if he's not recognized for his work in this, then Oscar should start judging dog shows or something. But as good as Reynolds is, the real star is director Rodrigo Cortes. He pulls off a filmmaking miracle - he made a movie that takes place in a box that never gets boring or stagnant. The entire movie is lit by the Zippo's flame or by the soft blue glow of the Blackberry, yet it never feels dull and always looks textured and rich. Cortes, who has only done foreign-language shorts before this, has now directed and edited a film that Alfred Hitchcock would be proud to have his name on.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this film has subtext falling out of its ears. There's a clear message about the military industrial complex and the United States military's way of using unarmed civilian contractors in areas rife with insurgents. This film has a lot more in mind than an exercise in claustrophobia; it also wants you to think about foreign policy and corporate control of war zones. It wants you to think about the importance of individual life and the cost of freedom and whether one is equal to the other. Buried is a minimalist masterpiece sprinkled with such a delicate balance of cynical detachment and human sympathy that its many questions will race through your mind long after it fades to black.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, a pencil, a cell phone and a lighter
Directed by Rodrigo Cortes