‘Buried’

At one point in playwright Tom Stoppard’s Tony-winning "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," in which Hamlet’s hapless schoolmates observe looming tragedy (their own) from the sidelines of Shakespeare’s classic play, Rosencrantz ponders the existential implications of life, and death, in a box:

After all, "you’d be helpless, wouldn’t you?" Rosencrantz reasons. "Stuffed in a box like that. I mean, you’d be in there forever."

No, Rosencrantz, not forever. Watching "Buried" just feels that way sometimes.

A tightly structured, but not always tautly executed, study of extreme, utterly understandable claustrophobia, "Buried" serves up a potentially intriguing cinematic exercise masquerading as a chilling nail-biter.

It’s the kind of thing TV’s "Twilight Zone" used to do so well. ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" actually did the same, with Quentin Tarantino directing, a few years back.)

And it would have been great fun, cinematically speaking, to see what Alfred Hitchcock might have made of "Buried," considering how Hitch loved how structural limitations stretched his imagination.

A lot farther than "Buried" director Rodrigo Cortes, that’s for sure.

Set in 2006 Iraq, "Buried" focuses on Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), who’s been working as a trucker for a U.S.-based company. He was delivering humanitarian aid to a community center when insurgents attacked his convoy, nabbed him and confined him, bound and gagged, to a plain wooden box, with only his trusty Zippo lighter for company.

That is, until one of his captors calls him on the cell phone thoughtfully left inside his coffin, setting up a high-stakes duel between devices for MVP (Most Valuable Prop) status as Paul awaits rescue before his oxygen runs out.

Because Paul’s just an average guy, his panicked reactions (courtesy of screenwriter Chris Sparling) never suggest much more than desperation. Except when "Buried" goes into heavy-handed political commentary mode, addressing the U.S. presence in Iraq — and corporate exploitation of hardworking innocents in a war zone.

Faced with one claustrophobic set and one anguished character, director Cortes manages to inject "Buried" with welcome visual variety. He and cinematographer Eduard Grau ("A Single Man") use the movie’s few (and dim) lighting sources to conjure an eerie atmosphere of dread. (Which, alas, is undercut whenever Victor Reyes’ cue-with-every-clue musical score goes into "Psycho"-drive.)

And while "Buried" cranks up the suspense from time to time, Cortes can’t maintain enough momentum to keep us so spellbound we wouldn’t have time to wonder, say, how Indiana Jones might react if he found himself in such a situation.

Paul Conroy’s no Indiana Jones, of course. And that’s partly the point.

Reynolds isn’t the kind of magnetically mesmerizing presence who can single-handedly redeem "Buried’s" inherent limitations, yet his easygoing, Everyguy energy makes it easier for us to identify with Paul as he attempts to endure an unendurable ordeal.

Except for a few wry asides, "Buried" doesn’t give Reynolds much chance to show off his flair for snarky humor — which seems entirely fitting given his role’s tour-de-force proportions.

He hyperventilates, freaks out, rages against the dying of the light. We wonder whether his cell phone battery will conk out before his hanging-by-a-shred survival instincts do — and whether "Buried" can maintain its grip on our collective nerves.

Talk about thinking inside the box.

Contact movie critic Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Get a sneak peak of Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like