The second movie to be featured in The Canon Review's Ryan Reynolds week is the 2010 picture, Buried. Distributed by Lions Gate and directed by Rodrigo Cortes, Buried stars Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Mathis, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Erik Palladino. In Buried, Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, an American truck driver working in Iraq in 2006. One day, Conroy has the great misfortune of waking up in a coffin, with nothing but a cigarette lighter and a cell phone. While the cell phone gives him contact to the outside world, it doesn't help Conroy too much, as it proves to be hard to find a coffin buried in an Iraqi desert. So Conroy must find some way to get out of the coffin and emerge from the ground or else, he dies. A few notes about this film:
- Cortes, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock films, made the interesting decision of having every shot of the film take place in the coffin, with Reynolds being the only actor we see throughout the whole movie. So, throughout the entire movie, the audience is basically stuck in the coffin with Paul Conroy, adding more suspense to the film and a sense of frustration and powerlessness when it looks impossible for Conroy to get out. What also helps is that as a director, Cortes is talented enough to use what little light there is to work with in the coffin to add different emotions to each scene. Also, Cortes uses various camera angles to both show the isolation of Conroy and the claustrophobic, closed-off atmosphere in which Conroy is struggling to deal with. All in all, Cortes proves to be quite a talented director, getting every bit out of the limited scenery provided.
- Coming into this movie, I was skeptical about Reynolds's chances to pull off a role such as this one. After all, he's mainly been in comedy movies or flashy action features. However, Reynolds proves to be more than capable of playing the role of Conroy, delivering a gripping performance with great emotional range that makes the audience root for Conroy to eventually be rescued. Even though I must admit that I haven't seen a lot of Reynolds' work (which is the main reason I watched this film in the first place), I will say that this is easily the best work that I've ever seen him in. In a very demanding role, Reynolds pulls it off with aplomb.
- Luckily for Conroy, he was provided a cell phone, not only for his captors to reach him, but he can also call for help as well. This seems like a bit of a misstep for the kidnappers, but the main reason they leave the phone in there is so Conroy can make a hostage video to be sent out across the airwaves. I've got to say, even though Conroy is buried in a coffin, the cell phone gets some great coverage. I mean, I can't even pick up reception on my cell phone in my own house, and Conroy's able to call anywhere in the world with service only dropping out one time. I wonder what his cell phone carrier is?
- Not only does Buried attempt to recreate the experience of being buried alive, it also seems to be making a point about how frustrating it must be to be buried alive and having to rely on others to get you out. The first few minutes of the film is dedicated to Conroy trying to find someone, anyone, to believe his story and report it to the proper authorities. However, not everybody is so willing to believe that somebody could be buried in a coffin in Iraq. Conroy also has a frustrating conversation with a friend of his wife, who actually hangs up on him because she felt Conroy was a bit rude before finally giving him the number to the state department a second time. When Conroy finally reaches the proper authorities, he gets frustrated that they seem to be more interested in not letting the story leak to the press then rescuing Conroy or finding his captors. To make matters worse, Conroy actually gets fired by his employers for some violation of his contract in order to get out of paying his insurance. Now, I know that the writers were trying to display the greed of corporate America and the modern practice of companies covering their own butts instead of caring about their employees, but come on, this was a little too far. Imagine the PR nightmare that would take place after an employee got out of a terrorist situation and it comes out that he was fired by his contractor before hand for a petty and unrelated reason. That company would have employees quit on them left and right. I get what the filmmakers were going for, but for me, it felt like they were just piling on.
Overall, this is a movie that could have been an experimental disaster, but Cortes and Reynolds are able to pull it off and make Buried a compelling film. Buried is a film full of suspense and will tug at the audience's heart strings while making them think "what would I do in this situation" Overall, I'd give Buried a 7.6 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this movie, or future ideas for this blog, then send those along either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at email@example.com.