Tuesday 15 October 2019

Grave trouble makes a gripping thriller

An hour-and-a-half movie featuring just one actor (and a few cameo appearances) stuck in a box doesn't seem like the recipe for a gripping rollercoaster ride at first glance.

But Ryan Reynolds is superb as Paul Conroy, an American truck driver in Iraq, who finds himself in a very bad place. After an attack (which we never witness) on the contractor's convoy, Conroy is taken hostage for a ransom fee and is buried alive in a tiny coffin.

The only company he has is a cigarette lighter (very useful), a small torch and a mobile phone, which is his only link to the outside world. Oh, and there's a snake lurking somewhere, providing one of the many chilling moments in a truly chilling film.

There are moments of dark humour, which is apt given the darkness of his surroundings. Calls to the FBI, to his bosses, to contacts at home in America and to security chiefs are comic at times, with Conroy again and again being sternly warned not to panic.

While Reynolds is superb, credit must also go to the voices on the phone. Jose Luis Garcia Perez is creepy as the money-mad hostage-taker whose only emotion is greed. Robert Paterson brings at least a trace of humanity as Dan Brenner, the world-weary negotiator who is Conroy's only hope of salvation. And Stephen Tobolowsky is creepily efficient as Alan Davenport, the company HR manager who calmly tells Conroy to go rot and die because his contract has conveniently been rescinded.

Buried is a brilliant look at the horrors of war, the darkness and the light within the human soul, and the inhumanity of modern corporate life in the military industrial complex.

And the ending is as gripping and heart-stopping as any you will see this year on the DVD shelves.

Recommended (but not if you're claustrophobic).

DVD extras: Making-of featurette, interviews and movie trailer.

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