Last night, I went to see Buried. I had seen a trailer for it on my previous cinema trip to see Inception (reviewed here) but all I knew about it was that it features a man trapped in a coffin with just a mobile phone and cigarette lighter... and 90 minutes to live.
While it is not a film about which you want to know too much prior to seeing, I feel I can furnish you with a little more information: Ryan Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a contractor for an American conglomerate involved in the reconstruction of Iraq. His convoy has been ambushed and when he wakes up he discovers he's in a box which he rapidly establishes is, indeed, buried.
What follows is, essentially, a one-man performance. Aside from a video text that he receives at one point, all the other actors exist merely as voices on the phone which he finds in the coffin. Having lost his "safe number" he tries desperately to make contact with the outside world and seek help.
Although the film "action" is almost entirely in the coffin, the director does make use of a number of camera shots and angles so as to prevent the film from becoming visually boring. It also makes good use of a blacked out screen when the lighter is extinguished.
At the end of the day, I'm not sure if Buried is anything more than a thriller about a man trapped in a box. For all the that it raises questions about the role of the west in rebuilding Iraq, how we deal with hostage situations and about how big commercial entities act, these seem only to create a narrative rather than to provide comment and provoke thought.
So does it succeed as a thriller? Sadly, I think not... For me, the tension was not kept a sufficiently high level throughout. While the ending wasn't unsatisfactory in itself, the build up to and execution of this could have been handled better.
I will include a final word, however, in praise of the old-style opening credits which were both a surprise and a joy. I wouldn't recommend going to see a film just for the credits, and I'm not sure I'd recommend the rest of Buried.
That, of course, is just my view - you may have seen it and disagree or you may wish to form your own views.