Skeptics believing Ryan Reynolds (People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2010) to be incapable of acting his way out of a paper bag should watch him attempt something considerably harder—a wooden box—in Buried. For 95 tense, claustrophobic minutes Reynolds lies (mostly) on his back, pushes against his rigid confines, struggles into corners, burns his fingers, fusses with a flashlight, curses on a cell phone, and generally tries to convince others of who he is (Paul Conroy, truck driver), where he is (buried six feet underground in the Iraqi desert), and what he needs (help, soon, before his air runs out). This experiment in minimalist filmmaking succeeds in part because of Reynolds’ tight, controlled performance and by Rodrigo Cortés’ equally tight, controlled direction. And it helps immeasurably that the script, by Chris Sparling, follows those same tight, controlled guidelines. Reynolds’ hapless contractor was part of a civilian convoy that was attacked by insurgents; most of his colleagues were killed. But Conroy comes to in a coffin with only a cell phone and cigarette lighter for company. Getting a call out isn’t a problem. Getting someone who won’t put him on hold is. As told, Buried will leave you breathless.
(c) 2011 David N. Butterworth