Ryan Reynolds in a coffin. That’s it, that’s the whole movie. That’s Buried, a cruel and Kafka-esque thriller from director Rodrigo Cortés, about Paul Conroy, a civilian truck driver in the Iraq War who wakes up buried underground, with only a cell phone to aid him. Miraculously he can actually get a signal, but he’s running out of air and has only the length of a short feature film to survive. Can the authorities find him in time? Will anyone pay his ransom? Just how bitter and cynical can one thriller get?
Extremely bitter and powerfully cynical, that’s the answer to that last question. Reynolds plays his part with pathetic charm. He’s a nice guy who doesn’t deserve this, and his terrifying predicament quickly becomes a problem that other people want to solve, whether or not it actually helps the guy who’s been buried alive. There’s a phone call in the middle of Buried that may be the most depressingly plausible damnation of corporate cruelty in modern cinema. There aren’t many movie heroes who are as impossibly screwed as Paul Conroy. And there aren’t many movies that would revel in his interminably suspenseful torment like Buried does.