Film Reviews

BURIED

By • Sep 17th, 2010 •

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Claustrophobic horror.

I have visited the catacombs in Rome; tried – but freaked out – attempting to go inside the Khufu’s pyramid at Giza (I started crawling down the tunnel – with people pushing behind me – and immediately stopped. I yelled and everyone had to back up. You share the small space with the people returning. I was promptly handed my entrance fee. They know some people panic and just can’t go down the steep pathway. Going inside the pyramids is not cheap and with two-thirds of Americans fat, they will have to widen the entrance for obese tourists.)

I did go inside the underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey. It is at first deceptive in that you walk in but as I continued claustrophobia struck. It was horrifying.

I had the same feeling watching BURIED.

Damn! This was terrifying. I’m not spoiling the film because the title says it all. A 30-year-old man, Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), is working as a highly paid (I’ve done the research) civilian driver for a private security company, also known in the langua franca as “a shadow army” providing logistical support to American troops.

In April, 2004, CNN World had this news item about Blackwater Security Consulting with the title “High pay — and high risks — for contractors in Iraq.” Four employees were viciously killed and their corpses mutilated by a mob in Fallujah. Blackwater is one of a growing number of private security contractors that are hiring veterans for jobs previously assigned to the military.

The plot that unfolds is therefore highly realistic and probable. Director Rodrigo Cortes has managed an impressive feat and praise should be given to Reynolds for taking on this role – he’s the only one in the movie, except for the voices that answer his cell phone. I believed his panic.

Conroy wakes up to find himself buried in a custom-made wood coffin. He has no room to move around. He has a Zippo lighter, a terror-issued cell phone, a knife and little else. Of course, his wife is not at home. Where the hell is she and why, if your husband is off in Iraq, you leave the house without your cell phone?

My husband was a mentor to the Ministry of Defense in Afghanistan in 2003. He called me every day. He also had a translator and a bodyguard – but still, it was a dangerous three months in an inhospitable environment.

Conroy had been given a special emergency number but his kidnappers took it. He begins to make calls to his wife, 911, his employer, and the State Department. Finally, an Iraqi man calls him with a ransom demand of $5 million. He has two hours to get the money.

Conroy finally reaches the Hostage Working Group’s Dan Brenner and is told that the U.S. will not pay the ransom. Well, we know this isn’t true, don’t we?

Who paid American hiker Sarah Shourd’s $500,000 bail? In releasing Shourd, Iran announced that the $500,000 had been paid. A U.S. official told the Associated Press that neither the U.S. government nor the Shourd family paid the bail, but could not say who else might have paid it. Clearly both parties could have reasons to conceal their roles.

Immediately, risking using up his available air, Conroy starts hyper-ventilating and screaming. Once he takes some of his anxiety medication that the kidnappers left him with, he notices some other things he has – light sticks and a flashlight.

The ending is impressive and unexpected – I’ll go no further. I will say there was a scene I did not watch.

You keep waiting to see if the director will cheat, but in my opinion, he didn’t. Reynolds, who will appear as THE GREEN LANTERN and in the X-Men’s DEADPOOL, has elevated his acting career with BURIED. It was a risky career choice, and well worth seeing.

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