The film comments on the way the United States government and corporations neglect their employees, but at bottom it's a Hitchcockian technical exercise to see how much action and how many camera angles can fit into such a confined space. And because the situation is so contrived - there's no reason for the kidnappers to bury their captive in the first place - there are times when you're thinking less about how Reynolds can survive, and more about how the writer and director can sustain the drama.
Over all, though, they've done a remarkable job of keeping Buried dynamic and frightening, but also plaintive and blackly funny, without any cheating: there are no flashbacks or cuts to the outside world, and no supporting characters except voices on a phone. Reynolds deserves immense credit, then, for carrying the film single-handedly, maintaining a delicate balance between movie-star twinkle and everyman terror in what must have been a severely uncomfortable role. Buried would make a tremendous double-bill with Lebanon, which was, up until now, this year's most claustrophobia-inducing drama set in a Middle-East war zone.