Gimmick films tend to be disappointing. They always bring you in with an interesting premise (and of course the gimmick), but in the middle of the film most of them drop the gimmick to finish the story (like the good, but still disappointing, sci-fi film of 2009, District 9). When I heard of the plot of Buried (A guy wakes up in a coffin and tries to find how he got there and find his way out before his oxygen supply runs out) and found out that the film was 90 minutes long, I immediately set myself up to be disappointed. How could a 90 minute long film stay inside a tiny coffin for its entire duration with just one actor on the screen? Well I was in for a surprise when Buried answered the question.
As mentioned above, Buried is about a truck driver (Ryan Reynolds) in Iraq that is abducted and buried inside a coffin with just a few other supplies. The film is directed by Rodrigo Cortes, a Spanish director who had his big break in the United States with this film. The screenwriter, Chris Sparling, makes his big break with this film as well. Both of their work (whether it be Sparling’s tight and crisp script or Cortes’ claustrophobic and tense style of directing) are the major factors for the success of this film. The skill that these two bring to the table makes it impossible to look away from the screen and (like a certain summer blockbuster) makes you gasp in shock to the film’s (spoiler alert) ambiguous ending (end spoiler alert).
No one has ever doubted that Ryan Reynolds has charisma, but there always have been questions about if he was reaching his full potential. Those questions stop here. Reynolds creates a tour de force performance with this film and holds the screen by himself (ala Tom Hanks in Cast Away) throughout its entirety. Besides Reynolds, great voice work is done by Robert Paterson and Stephen Tobolowsky.
Behind the camera aspects for this film are amazing. The intensity of this film (and the suspense within it) has as much to do with the editing (also done by Rodrigo Cortez) as it does the directing and writing. The cinematography is also amazing considering all of the shots in the film are in a space under 10 feet in length.
With Buried, we have an exciting thriller that will have you clutching your armchair until the very end. Even more amazing is that it features a breakthrough directorial job and a star reaching his true potential.