Written by Natalie Peck
For most people, being buried alive is one of the most terrifying situations imaginable..
This is just what happens to US truck driver Paul Conroy (Reynolds), buried in a box six feet under the Iraqi desert, with nothing but a trusty lighter and an unreliable mobile phone. After remembering that his convoy was attacked by Iraqi terrorists, he realises he must somehow orchestrate his own rescue.
Because of the limited setting, Paul’s attempts to escape his perilous situation are peppered with several cinematic clichĂ©s, including an unwelcome visitor. The mobile phone’s signal and battery life are less than excellent â€“ but then he is six feet under â€“ and the intentions of authorities that he manages to contact are doubtful to say the least, and his wife just will not answer her phone for love nor money, but there is a handy answering service for desperate pleas and declarations of love. Thank goodness.
From the opening titles, director Rodrigo Cortes is obviously attempting a Hitchcock-esque thriller, and whether he pulls this off is debatable. Bravely, the camera never leaves the box, and the film relies on a series of clever cuts and interesting angles to keep it visually interesting. This heightens the claustrophobia and tension of the film effectively. The final twist is interesting, but doesnâ€™t have much impact, and assumes a smug cleverness that it really doesn’t deserve.
Buried comes across as a mixture of The Vanishing and Phone Booth, and is nowhere near as good as the former but much more successful than the latter. Box office success is doubtful â€“ audiences are likely to be made up of Ryan Reyonlds fans and masochistic cinema-goers to whom spending 90 minutes in a small box with a desperate family man sounds like a good thrill-seeker. Thatâ€™s not to say the film isnâ€™t good, enjoyable even, and works very well within limited means. Reynolds is a decent actor and works well as the mediator of the external â€śactionâ€ť of the film, as well as the only on-screen presence.
What the film really lacks is gravitas, and it largely avoids a political agenda. As Paul constantly repeats, he is â€śjust a guyâ€ť and therefore devoid of responsibility. He is fighting for his life but the audience is more voyeuristic than empathetic, and just like the voices on the end of the phone, are never really fully rooting for him.
Last edited: 16th February 2011
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