Buried (2010): Thriller with Ryan Reynolds Proving He’s more than Just Handsome Face

In Buried, expertly directed by the gifted Spaniard Rodrigo Cortes, Ryan Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a U.S. truck driver, who simply refuses to die.  Or does he?

Those who claim that Ryan Reynolds is just a handsome face and a star (not actor) with limited range (best in romantic comedies, such as “The Proposal”) should look carefully at this picture, which rest entirely on his robust shoulders and acting skills.

“Buried,” which played to great acclaim at the Sundance Film Fest and than at the Toronto Film Fest, could become a sleeper, what with its intriguing narrative, of a man confined to a limited space, and a story whose real duration parallels the running time of the film, about 90 minutes.

Reynolds plays Pat Conroy, a man who wakes up six feet underground with no idea of who put him there or why. The very survival for this happily married husband and father instantly becomes a hellish struggle for survival.

You may ask, legitimately so, why should I see a film, in which there’s only one character, a man buried underground, with only his wits and two gadgets to save him. The answer: “Buried” is a high-stakes thriller, carried off with visual brilliance and technical polish, boasting a towering performance that should make Ryan Reynolds a major star and bona fide actor.

When the narrative begins, Paul is buried with only a cell phone and a lighter, his contact with the outside world and ability to piece together clues that could help him discover his location are maddeningly limited.  Poor reception, a rapidly draining battery, and a dwindling oxygen supply become his worst enemies in a tightly confined race against time, fighting panic, despair and delirium, Paul has only 90 minutes to be rescued before his worst nightmare comes true.

In the first reel, we learn that Paul Conroy is an American civilian truck driver on a contract assignment in Iraq. An average family man from small town Michigan, Paul is just trying to earn enough money to keep food on the table back home. But when his convoy is attacked by Iraqi insurgents, all that fades to black as he’s knocked unconscious.

As he awakes in the dark, scary, claustrophobic space, Paul is horrified to find that he’s been buried alive in a coffin. With no idea who put him there or why, he must race against time to figure out how to free himself from this nightmarish prison. He has a cigarette lighter to offer brief moments of illumination. He has a BlackBerry. Why his captors have left him with that isn’t clear until it rings. They let him know they are demanding five million dollars in ransom before nine o’clock that night or he will be left to die. But why him?

Struggling to understand the circumstances that landed him there, he must also try to find ways to satisfy or outwit his kidnappers before the deadline. With limited battery power, spotty signal reception underground and a dwindling air supply, Paul has ninety minutes to solve this riddle before becoming permanently buried.

With the exception of two scenes, which do not ring true (but cannot be related here), “Buried” is a supremely acted, technically masterful thriller, told with great verve, inventing new twists at every turn.

Director Rodrigo Cortés sets a high bar for himself, effectively meeting (and more) the nearly impossible challenge of keeping a story rushing along, while confining it to a single, extremely limited space—and a single actor.
Boasting incredibly sharp and evocative cinematography by Eduard Grau (who also shot Tom Ford’s “A Single Man”), haunting score and sound, and masterful editing by Cortés himself, “Buried” bears slight resemblance to Hitchcock’s classics, such as Lifeboat and Rope, both of which used the limitations of a set as a bold challenge.
About Director Cortes
Rodrigo Cortés was born in Pazos Hermos, Spain. He has made the award-winning short films Yul (1998) and 15 Days (2001) and made his feature debut with The Contestant (2007).
Ryan Reynolds
Production Company: Versus Entertainment, The Safran Company, Dark Trick.

Producer: Adrián Guerra, Peter Safran
Executive Producer: Alejandro Miranda, Rodrigo Cortés
Cinematographer: Eduard Grau
Editor: Rodrigo Cortés
Sound: James Muñoz
Music: Victor Reyes
Production Designer: Maria de la Cámara, Gabriel Paré