Hope and Despair
Watching "Buried" makes me think I'm Yogi Bear, as in I'm smarter than the average bear or at least smarter than Paul Conroy who is trapped in a coffin by terrorists. It is because of some seriously dumb elements early on that I'm not impressed by "Buried" as a whole but then found some things to be really good. Director Rodrigo CortÃ©s's ability to keep the drama inside the coffin is first rate and there is a spectacular use of the small space whilst Ryan Reynolds shows that he can do drama. But it is because of certain things such as the constant use of a lighter in an air limited space that makes "Buried" a difficult movie to get in to.
Having come to, American truck driver Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds - The Proposal) finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin somewhere in Iraq where he was working. His last memory is of the convoy of trucks being attacked and being knocked out by some flying debris and all he has is a pen, a lighter and a mobile phone set in a foreign language. With nothing to go on as to where he is Paul desperately tries to contact someone to help whilst dealing with his confined space and that feeling of helplessness.
So "Buried" is an incredibly simple movie because it is all about Paul being stuck in a coffin trying to get help whilst dealing with a terrorist who calls him and also the claustrophobic feeling. Now some of this is good as director Rodrigo CortÃ©s does a brilliant job of containing the drama to the coffin, exploring the limitations to not so much make the coffin feel larger but stop it from being a monotonous static camera movie. At the same time he manages to expand the coffin in such away to highlight Paul's emotion, the sense of being helpless and this is happening to someone else has a nice out of body tone to it.
Now as the story unfolds the sense of despair heightens, as you would expect and in the final third of the movie you do get a real sense that Paul has accepted his fate and knows he is about to die especially as it reaches a pretty spectacular climax. The trouble for me is that the first third of the movie makes it very difficult to accept because of some dumb things. Now as I mentioned watching "Buried" made me think that maybe I am smarter than everyone else because I know using a lighter in a confined space with limited air is going to burn up oxygen, at the same time panicking and over exerting yourself will do the same. So watching Paul do the opposite of what he should stops it from being believable and whilst you could say that it would take time to realise this he never does. That is not the only problem I have as a snake appears in the coffin which to me is forced drama as is some other moments of drama.
What is a pity is that when you get past the initial stupidity "Buried" starts to get good, as already mentioned you get the sense of despair as time runs out and the coffin and Paul starts to do a few clever things. It is because of Ryan Reynolds that it works and he does a fantastic job of delivering a dramatic performance as he takes us on a rollercoaster ride of hope and despair. Those final few scenes which rock between hope and despair are some of the best I have ever seen which makes me all the more annoyed that the first third of the movie employs such stupid elements.
What this all boils down to is that "Buried" is a movie which due to a poor first third struggles which is a shame because the final third is stunning. It means that it is a movie which you need to give time to and accept some dumb stuff but the pay off come the end is well worth it especially Ryan Reynolds' performance which will make you think of him in a different light.