Review: BURIED (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Review: BURIED (2010)

RATING: 3.5/5

Dig this out: a movie that set entirely in a coffin. It's as simple as that, and it wouldn't be a surprise if there's (most) people out there end up thinking it's impossible to make a movie with this kind of setting. But Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes's Hollywood debut, BURIED, manages to defy all the odds and comes up one of the most startlingly inventive little thrillers ever made in recent memory.

The plot, in the meantime, is deceptively simple: Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), a civilian truck driver contracted to deliver kitchen supplies in war-torn Iraq, finds himself wake up buried inside a wooden coffin after an ambush. Equipped only with a cell phone, a Zippo lighter and a pencil, he has no idea where he is located or why he ends up being buried in the first place. He's in the midst of panic attack, and wants nothing more than simply digging his way out of the coffin but fails to do so. So he relies heavily on a cell phone to call for outside help -- including the State Department where a Hostage Working Group's person-in-charge Dan Brenner (voice of Robert Paterson) attempts to calm his nerves while helping him to get through this at the same time. Then Conroy gets a call from an Iraqi man (voice of Jose Luis-Garcia Perez), who demands him to wire transfer $5 million within two hours, or else.

Chris Sparling's screenplay is tight and involving, while Ryan Reynolds is basically a one-man show throughout the movie. The first thing people thought of Ryan Reynolds, he's hardly known as a dramatic actor who is good with acting other than being more particularly well-known for his handsome charm and beefed-up physique. But here, he defies all the expectation and proves the people wrong that he has somehow delivers a tour de force performance of his career. As Paul Conroy, we really feel his frustration, anger and sympathy as he goes through painful ordeal buried inside the coffin. He is often shot in extreme close-ups, where we see mostly of Reynolds' emotional facial expression and he succeeds that level of acting demand with a big wallop.

On the technical fronts, Rodrigo Cortes' skillful direction (who also edited his movie) is impressive and he's clearly shows a labor of love in crafting a claustrophobic thriller in the style of Alfred Hitchcock. Working together with his cinematographer Eduard Grau and sound designer James Munoz, they create a series of escalating tensions (among them, the snake encounter) via abrupt zooms, tight POV shot and of course the riveting music score from Victor Reyes. It's also particularly amazing what Eduard Grau can do to light the movie in different ways (as well as shade of colors) depending on what Paul is using for light (e.g. Zippo) at any given moment.

All the genuine novelty aside, the movie also benefits from Sparling's often witty screenplay especially when Paul is having a series of difficulties in his various phone calls. Among such scenes is where he is being constantly "put on hold" during most calls he made.

BURIED is an overall gripping experience not to be missed, but it's also not without its certain flaws. Despite running at a scant 95-minutes, the movie still feels somewhat a bit too long. There are times the movie tends to grow repetitive and seriously needed for heavy trimming. And there's the ultimate twist towards the crucial finale, which is actually quite unexpected but at the same time feels somewhat like a cheat.

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