Director Rodrigo Cortes and actor Ryan Reynolds team up to lock us in a box with Reynolds’ kidnapped contractor in Iraq as he attempts to figure a way out before he uses up all of his available oxygen. It’s difficult to figure out the bigger risk here. Is it stepping into a Middle Eastern war zone knowing full well the extent of anti-American sentiments in the region (despite the promise of compensation at a time when employment is hard to come by), or is it nearly impossible to imagine spending 90 minutes in such cramped quarters with a single actor, even one as engaging as Reynolds?
The film brings to mind elements of Danny Boyle’s upcoming 127 Hours, a true story based on the experiences of a climber who gets his arm caught between a boulder and a canyon wall for five days before figuring a way out of his situation.
Cortes condenses the timeframe and strands us in the coffin with Reynolds through the whole ordeal. We listen as he attempts to make calls to his employers, government officials and his family, and there are moments of palpable dread as his oxygen depletes and eventually sand begins to seep in.
Ultimately, though, Buried is not about the man in the coffin at all; it speaks to the disconnected boxes and breakdowns in communication that exist in the world that leave us all stranded when we desperately need to reach someone, anyone. Grade: B+