Ryan Reynolds & Stephen Tobolowsky in Buried
You may say there's nothing new under the sun. But the gripping new thriller "Buried" does not take place under the sun.
It takes place under the ground, in a coffin-like wooden box, imprisoning an American truck driver held hostage somewhere in
He is played by
A cell phone is the other major character, the means by which Ryan's character,
Considering its willfully claustrophobic setting, the film's cinematic properties are remarkable.
It begins in darkness. Then, a scratching sound, a cough. Then the location reveals itself. We're where Uma Thurman found herself in " Kill Bill Vol. 2" and where the scary Dutch thriller "The Vanishing" ended. The film's hemmed-in parameters court comparisons with Hitchcock's "Lifeboat," which confined virtually all its activity to a World War II-era lifeboat bobbing on a rear-projection ocean. "Buried," by contrast, needs no rear projection. Its wide-screen format gives each detail its due. The props are few but crucial. Paul has his cell phone, Zippo lighter, a knife, a pen and his wits. Are they enough to free him from a geopolitical situation beyond the tiny world we see?
This is Spaniard Rodrigo Cortes' second feature, and working with the inspired cinematographer
The movie was shot in 17 days. Seven different coffins, each modified for different camera movement, were used during filming.
A couple of times, we're shown Paul from an overhead shot, patently unrealistic; those shots, and only those, yank you out of the movie for a few seconds. Otherwise this is shrewdly considered and edited genre work, spiced -- bitterly -- with the right variety of complication.
The old-school opening credits, scored for maximum orchestral oomph by composer
"Buried" isn't big, but it isn't small.
Where the story ends up will no doubt vex some people. Reynolds lightens the load. Paul's predicament doesn't strain for a metaphoric meaning, and Reynolds doesn't push it either. He's an ingratiating actor with a voice that may yet phase out of "young juvenile" range. He responds well to this film's tight, pretzel-like demands.
It could've gone wrong in the first five minutes; even with plausibility issues (and don't we all have those, now and then?), director Cortes sustains 94 with ease. This exercise in racked nerves makes most of the year's thrillers look like flailing maniacs by comparison.
"Buried" Movie Trailer
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MPAA rating: R (for language and some violent content).
Running time: 1:34.
Credits: Directed by