MOVIE: Buried (2010)

The Good: This movie opens with a completely black screen.  Absolute darkness.  No sights, no sounds.  And dark and silent it stays for what feels like an eternity (especially if you, like me, are alone in an empty theater — THE CREEPS!).

Then, slowly, a few tiny noises.  Crane forward, tip your ear toward the screen (even though it’s in surround sound so this motion makes little sense), and you’ll pick up the rasp of a breath.  Then, louder: gasping. Followed quickly by the indescribable yet undeniable sound of recognition that something is wrong.  That, in turn, leads to furious panting, the sound of feet, knees, and elbows banging against wood, and then panicked screams, gradually fading back into a more practical calm.

Cue the extremely distinctive sound of a Zippo lighter, followed by light, followed by the face of Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), who has just woken up to find himself buried in a wooden coffin with only the Zippo, a flask of something drinkable, a cell phone, and a pencil in there with him.

Good goddamn.  Now that’s how you start a movie.

The Bad:  Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there.  As the story unfolds, we learn that Paul is a civilian contractor driving trucks in Iraq.  Earlier that day, his convoy was attacked by insurgents who shot nearly all his colleagues right in front of him.  Guns going off all around him, Paul got whomped in the head by something and fell to the ground unconscious.  And that’s the last thing he remembers before waking up in the box:  one hell of a few final moments in the light.

As he begins putting the cell phone to use, he eventually learns he’s being held hostage, buried underground by those same insurgents, who are now demanding $1 million in exchange for his life.

That’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot of this one, because I think if you go into it knowing too much about the story, you won’t find much else to hold your attention.  It’s a 90-minute movie shot entirely inside a dark box, after all — there isn’t much more to it than the gradual unraveling of a tale.

I will say, though, that Ryan Reynolds, an actor who’s never really been on my radar before, does an impressive job here, and his performance is the only thing that makes it worth seeing through to the end.  The other actors — the voices on the other end of the phone — are mediocre at best, and the story itself is pretty much same-same.

My biggest problem with the film, though, was that I felt like by the end, after riding out the worst 90 minutes of Conroy’s life right there with him in the dark, I should’ve left feeling like I knew him.  At least a little.  But no — not so much.   I cared about him, thanks to Reynolds’s effective emoting, but I didn’t know him.  I didn’t connect to him.  And that just ain’t right somehow.  That’s a scriptwriting flaw, if you ask me, and it’s a big one.

And so, overall, I think the best thing I can say about Buried is that it’s an interesting exercise in minimalistic set design.  There was a lot of camera skill on display — a lot of cinematic creativity — but not much more than that, I’m afraid.

Score:  B for effort, MEH for effect.

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Thriller
Cast:  Ryan Reynolds and a wooden box


2 Responses to “MOVIE: Buried (2010)”

  1. Liz Says:

    I love your cast list.

    I saw Ryan Reynolds in an interview about this movie. Apparently, it was quite difficult for him, emotionally.

    Don’t forget – he’s going to be “Green Lantern” soon!

  2. megwood Says:

    I can’t imagine! Being in the box ninety minutes would be hard, but for weeks on end? And I even LIKE small spaces!

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