Buried (2010)

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Robert Paterson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Samantha Mathis

Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Ryan Reynolds in Buried

Ah!  My first free Sunday afternoon in four months. And what better way to spend it than watching a man stuck in a box?

Buried (the clue is in the title) tells the sorry tale of Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), a truck driver contracted to work in Iraq who's been kidnapped and buried alive in a wooden coffin somewhere in the desert. Armed with nothing but a mobile with Arabic squiggles on it, a pen knife, a pencil, a zippo and a very erratic torch (as coffin's come, it's fairly well equipped), he must talk/scrabble/singe his way to freedom. Or not.

Okay, I'm being flippant. But seriously, can one man stuck in a box really hold the attention for ninety minutes?

Ryan Reynolds in Buried

Well, thanks to a bravura (if occasionally histrionic) performance from Ryan Reynolds, mostly it can – although it does smack rather of an hour's worth of script padded out to fill a respectable movie running time, with a few unlikely events shoehorned in to plug the gaps, resulting in a somewhat uneven film that's at times shocking (albeit sensationalist), edge of your seat drama, at other moments utterly credulity straining, like watching the cast Spooks tap the line of the Fonejacker.

With its zippy 1970s title sequence, claustrophobic atmosphere and frenetic orchestral score, there's definitely something Hitchcockian about this tense, breathless thriller, and it's nice to see a film which relies on script, character and ideas rather than 3D effects to keep an audience gripped. Because Buried will keep you guessing right up until the end, and it will leave you feeling deeply unsettled, not to mention sick to the stomach at the state of affairs in Iraq (if you weren't already).

If you're scared of the dark or dislike confined spaces (or indeed Ryan Reynolds), this probably isn't the film for you. But if you ever wanted to know what happened after the credits rolled in The Vanishing, get thee to Buried now.

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