The elemental terror of being buried alive.
An American contractor is abducted by an Iraqi who demands an exorbitant ransom.
Now kick in a cell phone, jaunty water flask, endless light supplies and close-ups of Ryan Reynolds’ facial hair. Layer in a snake, fire and sand.
This would have been a chilling, inventive short. At feature length, it feels bloated.
There are many ideas here. The sometimes shameful treatment of American contractors, the always surreal comedy of being able shuffled through voicemail and bureaucrats whose self/institution serving ways creates true venality. It’s hard to integrate the drama of ideas through an ordinary man (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, anyone?) with the flip sarcasm of an actor born to play romantic comedy.
The soundtrack is thoughtful is sometimes inelegant.
There are plot holes big enough to drive a convoy through. Thrillers like Buried need to be ruthless plotted. Each time the logic is broken, the film dies a little. Cortes and screenwriter Chris Sparling tried to channel North By Northwest but wound up raising the ghost of Rope.
But this should give young filmmakers hope. High concept lives and all kinds of movies can still be financed.