BURIED is the best movie that nobody will see this year. Film critics, when they feel uninspired to come up with new and creative praises for films and performances they like, like to use “tour-de-force” to describe an exemplary performance by an actor. Ryan Reynolds, whom I’ve given half a rat’s asshole to his career thus far, truly gives a tour-de-force and monumental performance that demands to be noticed by the Academy of Arts and Sciences when the Oscars roll around. Reynolds literally gives a one-man show for 1 hour and 34 minutes without missing a single beat. Unfortunately, Lionsgate Films has gone full retard in failing to properly market this movie. Consequently, BURIED has done poorly at the box office and probably won’t be expanding beyond a few niche markets. In the Bay Area, the film was only playing in 1 theater in San Francisco and 1 in Santa Cruz. So if you’re among the fortunate few who has a theater nearby showing this film, GO SEE IT!

Ryan Reynolds plays a truck driver who works for an independent contractor in Iraq that delivers supplies to various places throughout Iraq. His convey gets attacked and he is kidnapped by a bunch of Iraqis (we don’t know whether they’re insurgents or terrorists, but that doesn’t really matter because they’re all the same shit) who bury him alive in a coffin a couple of feet underground. The movie begins with Reynolds waking up to discover that he’s inside the coffin. With him is a lighter and a cell phone. The rest of the movie entirely takes place inside the coffin as we, along with Reynolds, try to figure out what the hell is going on.

I know its a little tough to swallow sitting inside a movie theater for 1 hour and 34 minutes just to watch a dude confined inside a coffin squirming, panicking, and hoping he gets out alive. However, not once did I find myself bored, checking the time, or even momentarily wandering away. My friend and I were fully immersed in the predicament of the character. I consider that a testament to the high level of skill and ingenuity that’s clearly exhibited by Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes. BURIED is MacGyver-style storytelling. Place a character in an impossible situation, equip him with a few random things, and see whether he can get out of his situation or not. I dig this sort of shit because it forces a director to be at his most creative in crafting a story. Unless you plan on setting your story outside the realms of reality where anything is possible, you are not afforded a wide array of possibilities for your character and thus, the normal conveniences that storytellers can resort to to get their characters out of situations is unavailable. In BURIED, I kept waiting for Cortes to fuck up. I was waiting for that moment where the filmmaker cheats to resolve a problem because he can’t think of anything plausible that will work. Astonishingly enough, Cortes pretty much works within the bounds of reality. Aside from obvious limitations such as depleting oxygen levels, limited resources for light, and limited cell phone battery, Reynolds must also deal with, among other things, trying to discover who kidnapped and buried him and who to contact for help. I don’t want to give anything away here because the satisfaction of BURIED is watching how Reynolds thinks through his problems in a very limited amount of time. There are many “ticking bombs” in this movie that add considerably to the tension in the film (i.e. limited cell phone battery and depleting oxygen).

Rodrigo Cortes must have seen something in Ryan Reynolds that no one else has seen thus far in Reynolds. You have to be an incredibly talented, insightful, and disciplined actor to play this role. After all, you see no other actors for the entire film except for Reynolds. In fact, every single scene in the movie is Ryan Reynolds so it becomes very important that you not only buy his character and his performance of his character, but that you connect with the character to a much stronger extent than you otherwise would in most movies. You are stuck in that coffin with Reynolds so you better get comfortable or else its going to be a long-ass movie. Previous to BURIED, I had mostly seen Reynolds do comedy so I wasn’t aware of how good a dramatic actor he was. Here, he brings a healthy mixture of comedy and drama to his role to wonderful effect. He convincingly goes through every stage of emotion, anxiety, grief, and stress that a character in his situation would conceivably go through. You almost feel like Reynolds was really confined inside a coffin for the entire shoot and his performance is his real-life reaction to the claustrophobic confinement of his surroundings.

One thing I really enjoyed about Reynolds’ character was that, unlike MacGyver, he does not have the answers to everything. He doesn’t figure out every problem to a logical or rational conclusion. Many of his decisions are guided by stress and emotion and, as a result, he doesn’t always do the right thing. Some of you might not like this and you may feel frustrated as to why the character makes certain decisions. I actually liked the fact that the character isn’t perfect and it made me connect better with the character because it made him seem more human. Not too long ago I was having a conversation with a friend about why audiences immediately identified with Indiana Jones in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. What made us like Indiana Jones wasn’t so much the heroics of the character, but the wrong decisions he would sometimes make and the fights he would lose. Indiana Jones is fallible like everyone else and because of that, we are able to connect with him. The same goes for Ryan Reynolds’ character. We can easily identify with him because he is the Everyman.

With BURIED, Cortes establishes himself as a gifted filmmaker. He succeeds in pacing the film at a steady rhythm that never lets up on the scares and tension. At the same time, the movie doesn’t succumb to cheap schlocky thrills for the sake of making the audience scream. Some of you might see comparisons with Hitchcock due to the claustrophobic setting, ticking clock, and innocent-man theme (NOTE: The opening credit sequence is fantastic and reminiscent of the great Saul Bass, who used to do many of Hitchcock’s credit sequences). Ultimately, the real horror of BURIED isn’t the confined predicament of the character, but rather the expendability and worthlessness of human life that is shown through the character’s attempt to seek help. We live in a world where people are far more concerned about covering their asses from legal repercussions and bad publicity and making sure the daily routine of their lives are not interrupted by the problems of others. Be sure to make a point to see BURIED. If for nothing else, it shows that Ryan Reynolds is no lightweight actor and he proves that tenfold with this showpiece performance.

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