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Buried

Buried

What he said:

He

This one is really going to test you. If you have a short attention span or are easily bored, be warned. That’s not to say it’s bad; just that it has a different way of unfolding than most may have tolerance for.

First of all, the movie takes places in a box. Literally. It’s about a truck driver working in Iraq, whose crew is attacked and held for ransom. Though the only one we really see much of at all is Paul Conroy (played by Ryan Reynolds).

Paul awakes inside this tight, cramped little space in total darkness. The only things he has are a flashlight, glow stick, phone and some other minor things. For the most part, that’s it. That’s pretty much all you’re going to see in this movie, so be patient or don't bother with it.

The second little thing is there is an awful lot of Ryan Reynolds. That’s not a cheap shot at him. I’m just warning you that he’s pretty much all you’re going to see in this movie. And sorry ladies, he’s not even topless.

Despite these challenging obstacles, I found it to be quite the entertaining little suspense/thriller. It takes some pretty big ones to try and pull of a premise like this, so Ryan Reynolds and director Rodrigo Cortes deserve a lot of credit for successfully doing it. They managed to add a nice amount of tension to a very limited movie (visually speaking). It definitely managed to keep my interest.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the seal of approval by “the He” on February 21, 2011.

What she said:

She

In a world dominated by overblown, big budget circa-Michael Bay films that promise lots of entertainment via special effects, explosions, and the like, it’s both humbling and refreshing to come across a movie like Buried.  Filmed over just 17 days with only one major on-screen actor, Ryan Reynolds, the flick pushes the boundaries of the movie-making formula.

For starters, the whole movie takes place in a wooden coffin.  I don’t think there is any other visual for the audience.  And yet, as the film unfolds, there is an amazing amount of visualization that the viewer naturally gravitates toward.  I have a mental image in my mind of not just our main character, but also his wife, the hostage-taker, and others who only grace us with their voices during the film.

So here’s the premise.  Ryan Reynolds is Paul Conroy, a contract truck driver working in Iraq around 2004.  The movie opens with him walking up in a box, which he quickly realizes is a homemade coffin.  He has been buried alive.  Fortunately, Paul has some essentials with him—a cell phone (not his), some glow sticks, a flashlight, a flask, a knife, and a few other small items.  Over the next 90 minutes, the film takes you through Paul’s harrowing ordeal as he struggles to prevent his imminent demise.  He calls family, his employer, and the U.S. Government.  He’s even set up with a man from the State Department whose job it is to work with those taken hostage in Iraq.  As the seconds tick away, and the cell phone battery drains down, it becomes a race for Paul to save his own life.

How is it possible for a movie that entirely takes place in a box to be at all interesting, haunting, or suspenseful?  That’s really what I was asking myself going in to this one.  But I have to say, I think the film does a pretty good job.  It works well as a psychological thriller, as the viewer watches Paul juggle with many emotions—fear, anger, hope, and hatred.  Simultaneously, he’s also trying to do anything in his power to survive.  Paul also has to handle bureaucracy and plenty of politics, things that neither he, nor most viewers, may have considered before.  You come to realize that, underneath it all, the protagonist is just like most of us, a normal person trying to make a living.  Ryan Reynolds does a surprisingly good job of playing the main character.  I’m so used to his typical shtick, and so it was nice to see him play a completely normal and burdened person. 

Overall, I was shocked by how much I liked this film.  You have to go against your gut and give it your full attention, because it’s the tension and mix of emotions that Paul encounters that makes things interesting.  Definitely not a movie for everyone, but it’s worth a shot.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.