Have you ever imagined that you can wake up inside a sealed coffin buried in the middle of nowhere. If you haven't, imagine it. It should be really frightening. When you think about some further complications due to the lack of space, food, water and most importantly fresh air, it should look even more dreadful. This is the situation which Ryan Reynolds's character Paul Conroy wakes up in. With the limited help he can get from a lighter, a foreign language cell phone and a few additional items appearing to be of no great use, Paul has the heavy task to release himself from the trap while time and environment are working against him.
Unfortunately, as good as the premise of Buried is, its implementation is quite flawed unless we are supposed to think that the whole story is about some twisted, life-threatening scoff at Conroy. But because there is not any apparent reason why a group of random people would want to treat an ordinary American truck driver the way they do in Buried, it's hard to believe this is the case. And if it's not a mockery, the other option is to think that all involved in the plot are idiots or near idiots. It maybe acceptable that the buried man behaves inadequately under the circumstances he is put in but it's not likely that all of the rest do not know what they are doing also. Now, to back this statement up I will probably have to use some spoilers, so be warned about this.
To begin with, why would you bury your hostage if you want to get ransom for him? You risk killing him without a reason. You make everything harder for both sides. You can't control him or directly force him to do anything. You're not sure if the hostage is going to make a video to announce his situation and your ransom demand. And you limit your potential to harm him and to communicate with any eventual negotiators. According to Buried's narrative, this is not the first case of the same hostage situation so the kidnapper (although there is probably not only one of them) seems even more ridiculous due to his repetitive unsuccessful attempts to achieve his goal. And to make his actions looking extremely stupid, the moviemakers have decided to give the hostage only a couple of hours to get the ransom which is incredible to happen even if there has been someone wanting to pay the money. To finish with the kidnapper, he expects that a family of a truck driver will have 5 million dollars which are eventually lowered to 1 million in the middle of the movie as if there is any actual difference under the given time limitation.
The commander of the American Hostage Working Group is not any cleverer than the bad guy. He would not even think of taking some pictures with him when on a search of missing people. In his position, he should have been able to obtain a photo of Paul Conroy but at the very least he should have pictures of formerly vanished hostages. Another hardly believable part is the conversation between Paul and his company's representative which he is fired in. I'm not sure that such an act will be taken into account in court. Finally, the hostage himself behaves pretty unreasonable. He constantly wastes air, phone battery life and light sources. At least we can assume that he is under enormous stress in the situation. Frankly speaking, I'm not sure that Paul would not be able to release himself without any help if he had used all the available items at his disposal and having in mind the coffin seems rather unstable. At least, he could try (with good chances of success, I think).
Now, I understand that the idea of filming a man buried in the ground is quite restrictive and it is bounded with making some compromises if you want to create a watchable movie out of it. Yet, I don't think most of the faults in Buried are due to limitations of the premise. To be honest, the film is not all bad. There is a lot of tension. The ending is good. And the whole experience is different from the one offered by the majority of Hollywood movies. But it could've been a much better movie if the script has been improved and the characters' behavior made to be less serving the only purpose of devastating Paul as miserably as possible.