Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ryan Reynolds, (voices) Stephen Tobolowsky, Samantha Mathis, José Luis García Pérez, Robert Paterson, Ivana Miño, Warner Loughlin, Erik Palladino, Kali Rocha, Chris William Martin, Cade Dundish
Written by: Chris Sparling
Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés
MPAA Rating: R for language and some violent content
Running Time: 95
Date: 01/23/2010

Buried (2010)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Sand Box

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Spanish director/editor Rodrigo Cortés makes an impressive U.S. debut with this tightly crafted, classically thrilling script by Chris Sparling. The idea of staying entirely inside the coffin for a full movie is a huge challenge, and they -- along with cinematographer Eduard Grau (A Single Man) -- have mounted it admirably; they reveal information a little at a time, provide an emotional ebb and flow (with essential rest periods for the audience), and ramp it up when the time is right. It's an incredibly well made movie with nary a misstep.

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is a non-military contractor driving a truck in Iraq in 2006. He wakes up in total darkness, shocked to discover that he is in a coffin, apparently buried alive somewhere in the Iraqi desert. He has a cigarette lighter, and a flask, and he has been given a cell phone, a flashlight and a couple of glow sticks. He begins calling anyone he can think of to help, all the while fighting an endless array of troubles, mainly the ever-diminishing air supply inside the coffin, but also a snake attack, a cave-in, and the horrible, horrible panic that won't ever completely go away...

This, it goes without saying, sets the stage for a tour-de-force one-man show, and Ryan Reynolds makes it his own; it's a superb performance, possibly Oscar-worthy, which is not to disparage the talented voice actors on the other end of the cell phone. Overall, this is an astonishing, even daring achievement. The major problem is that it plays into a deep, basic human fear, and most viewers may not want to put themselves through it. In other words, it's a very, very good film, but difficult to recommend.

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