While on a job in Iraq, civilian contractor Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is attacked and kidnapped, then awakens to find himself buried alive in the middle of the desert with nothing but a lighter, a candle, a cell phone and a knife. Does Paul have the instincts he’ll need to save himself? Director Rodrigo Cortés crafts a tense psychological thriller with sociopolitical undertones that doubles as an exercise in claustrophobic terror.
Rating: 8 out of 10
This is an exceptionally gripping, frustrating, terrorizing film to watch. It’s also outstanding.
Cortés paints a sad and maddening film with an outstanding performance by Reynolds, who carries the film as the only actor on screen. The film is completely minimalist, shot only from the coffin the truck driver wakes up in until the very end of the picture. There is only one major flaw, and that is a big wagging finger scene at the big corporations who are contractors in Iraq. I won’t spoil the scene, but you’ll know it when you see it. It’s the only very weak moment of the film. It sits there like a bee on your picnic salad.
Aside from that, it’s 90 minutes in a coffin with a man who is frantically trying to get out with a few items provided to him by the terrorists who put him there. There is dialogue with himself, but the cell phone was brilliant because he makes calls to the FBI, trying to get them to help. He’s put on hold, bounced from person to person, and you find yourself exasperated. This film is not for everyone. It disturbed my wife because it’s very dark. She had nightmares. The film, itself, is a nightmare.
Are you referring to the scene where Paul is on the phone to his employer, right towards the end of the film? I thought that was one of the movies’ best moments; not so much an indictment of companies in Iraq, but of bureaucracy of general. As a piece of emotional filmmaker, I thought it was devastating.
Otherwise I completely agree with your take on this film – it was fantastic, stifling and terrifying.
Thanks for your comment. I just thought it was absurd. I believed the whole movie, but that moment was just a bit too much. I don’t think any company in its right mind would do that. It was just so out of place.