Year: 2010
Production Co: Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO)
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Writer: Chris Sparling
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Stephen Toblowsky, Samantha Mathis

Much has been made of the technical accomplishment of a thriller depicting a man buried in a wooden box for 90 minutes in real time, but the real accomplishment of it is that you hardly notice that's what you've been watching.

Like the best special effects, the film doesn't constantly show off about how clever it is, with the possible exception of a single shot where the camera wheels slowly around inside with truck driver Paul (Reynolds) to show the dimensions he's encased in.

The other accomplishment of the film is in delivering the exposition seamlessly with the action. The other end of the scale would have had the hero do a voiceover telling us who he is and how he got there, maybe even clumsy lines like 'Goddamn, how did a contract truck driver like me end up buried in a box in the Iraqi desert anyway?'

Instead, the script by Spanish writer/director Cortés manages to deliver everything we need to know about the contract truck driver who wakes up underground in the Iraq desert at the same time the story proceeds to wind our nerves tight.

There are some plot holes, including the huge one that reveals the companion Paul discovers he's sharing the box with to great horror, and a lesser one that deals with that companion's exit from the scene. I also found the bureaucratic ineptitude of the disinterested people he calls who put him on hold a little hard to swallow.

But Cortés manages to blend enough plot devices (the mobile, bottle of lighter fluid and pencil) to keep things chugging along at a good pace with moments of great and very un-clunky human tenderness. When Paul comes to believe he's going to die in the box, he records a farewell message to his wife and son on the mobile. Instead of having a priceless gold watch or boxing trophy, all Paul realises he has to leave his boy is some money and clothes he'll 'grow into'. He's not a heroic figure who'll die nobly, just an everyday schmoe caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A very well made movie from start (scriptwriting) to finish (production design).

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