One actor and one set. I can't recall how many films in the last few years had attempted something as daring and audacious as Buried, but writer Chris Sparling and director Rodrigo Cortes pulled this thriller off wonderfully, aided by the performance of Ryan Reynolds, who single handedly demonstrates his acting range that continues to cement him as one of my favourite character actors (from films like Waiting... to Definitely, Maybe) and before he takes flight in next year's expected effects extravaganza in The Green Lantern, he first gets his wings clipped and finds himself grounded, a few feet under.
Reynolds stars as Paul Conroy, a truck driver working for a conglomerate who gets sent by his company to Iraq to work. En route to his convoy's delivery of supplies in rebuilding efforts, the group gets jumped by terrorists/insurgents/criminals, and he finds himself buried in a box underground, which is where we find him when the film opens, unaware of where he is, and anxious to get out. With him are a few items which to reveal will spoil the fun, but suffice to say there's a Blackberry included in the package.
This is no Kill Bill where The Bride can hammer her way out of a boxed coffin through the use of martial arts taught by Bai Mei. Here it's as real as it can get, with the bad guys giving you enough so as to control you to do their bidding, yet with the same tools serving as a double edged sword, especially when efforts to reach help are concerned. The story engages at a very personal level since it's a one man tour de force with little external distractions, and I suppose anyone caught in the same situation will probably employ some of the same techniques here when desperately seeking help to escape.
Writer Chris Sparling and director Rodrigo Cortes crafts a simple yet effective story that will put you on the edge together with his protagonist, allowing you to experience almost everything he does, from frustrations when interacting with external parties in scenarios which we are all too familiar with, yet understanding and grasping the impact that such issues bring forth if we're in the same shoes. It's very gutsy of him to set it all in a singular location that is sans any beautiful images, and employing inventive techniques to keep the visuals fresh, yet providing enough to share that sense of claustrophobia and confinement within the small physical dimensions. The story also throws up scenarios that will pump that adrenaline so that there's never a dull moment.
Ryan Reynolds deserves all the kudos for a fine performance delivered. You can imagine how audiences can get turned off if they don't share the same emotions experienced along the way, and this spans a spectrum from exasperation to that resignation of fate. He screams, he cries, and he relies on his wit to stay alive, and I thought Buried was that perfect opportunity presented for him to show he's quite the actor ready to take on bigger, leading roles, without the need to don a costume to serve as a masked avenger. The supporting cast providing those faceless voices at the other end of the line also deserve some credit in logically expanding the universe of this film, without which it'll literally be one man talking to himself.
I believe local audiences here need to grow up. It doesn't mean that when the screen goes blank the projectionist is at fault. Stop the silly giggles and comments, and open your eyes and ears for the first signs the show is indeed in progress. Stay until after the end credits for a quick shot of the coffin interior panning to a "Mark White" inscription. Needless to say, this film is highly recommended for its bold vision and fine execution, which I suspect may start a trend of similar films soon, like how first-person type films have become popular.