21 April 2011

Movies: Buried

Buried (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1462758/

Thriller about a man (Paul) that groggily wakes up inside a wooden box, apparently buried alive.  He has a Zippo lighter, a small hip flask, an empty wallet and a cell phone.  We soon find out he was a civilian contract truck driver working in Iraq when his convoy was attacked. He was knocked unconscious during the attack and woke up inside the box. And his captors demand ransom.

Stars Ryan Reynolds as Paul. And he's the only actor you get to see in the film.

The whole film takes place inside the box.  I knew that ahead of time and was a little skeptical that an entire film stuck in a box would be watchable. Especially a whole film stuck inside a box with Ryan Reynolds. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on your opinion of Reynolds as an actor.

First off - if you are claustrophobic you might have trouble watching this film.  Sometimes it is lit by lighter or cell phone, other times it is dark. The camera angles place you inside the box with little room to move or breathe, and the minimal lighting just makes it that much more cramped.
Lucky for us viewers the whole film didn't consist of Reynolds breathing heavy and straining to get himself out of the box.  The cell phone keeps him in contact with his captors, various employer representatives, his wife's answering machine. So there are conversations to follow; conversations which fill out details of the unfolding story and continue to build suspense.  Every time the events seem to begin to relax and you get a chance to slow your breathing down something else happens to drive the thrill some more.  Then we get to the end of the film. Ooof. The director said he was inspired by Hitchcock's Lifeboat and Rope. I can see that.

Verdict? I was pleasantly surprised with the film. Directed well, filmed well, edited well. Reynolds did good, especially considering the film works or fails on his performance.  I have to amend that - a bad plot or script would've ruined it no matter who was in the box, but those worked too. But you can't sell a decently scripted film with an actor that can't deliver the goods.
Out of the whole of the film one sequence seemed unnecessary to me and could have been cut without hurting the film, but I can forgive it as being a one-time thing. I won't say which. Spoilers, you know?
Overall, the film does quite a bit with very little.

If you don't mind a claustrophobic thriller, take a chance on it.

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