Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a US contractor ambushed in Iraq who wakes to find himself six feet underground with only a cellphone and a Zippo. It’s an intriguing set-up, and the early scenes are superbly clammy as Paul deals first with his gruff Iraqi kidnappers and then with the infuriatingly sceptical US authorities, all the while keeping an eye on his dwindling air supply.
But writer-director Rodrigo Cortés struggles to maintain the tension, and his desire to appeal to the multiplex crowd leads to some bizarre, incongruous episodes: the sudden appearance of a snake is more laughable than terrifying, while Paul’s teary, Oscar-bait farewell to his geriatric mum feels heavy handed. If Cortés had dialled back the narrative intrigue and audience manipulation in favour of a more grimly realistic approach, ‘Buried’ could have been a bona fide, claustrophobic classic. As it is, this is a solid, unsettling, at times very entertaining thriller – but the jury’s still out on Reynolds.