The film starts dark and silent with Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) waking up inside a buried wooden coffin. Paul is a contractor for an American company in Iraq when his convoy was attacked by insurgents and he's being held for ransom. He's given a lighter, flashlight, two glow sticks, a knife, his own anti-anxiety meds, and a Blackberry so he calls 911, his wife, a female friend, the FBI and his company, all providing little to no help. He manages to contact Dan Brenner (Robert Paterson) of the State Department who has worked on similar kidnapping cases, comforting Paul by saying he recently saved an American medical student named Mark White.
Because of the military bombings above him, his wooden coffin starts to break and slowly fills with dirt. After Paul says goodbye to his wife and leaves a parting message with his son, Brenner calls and tells him that they found an informer who knows where the American is buried and they are digging at that site so Paul desperately tries to stay alive as long as he can. After the sound of wood being broken is heard from the phone, Brenner says (paraphrasing) "Oh my god, it's Mark White, I am so sorry, Paul, I am so sorry." Seconds later, Paul's coffin is completely filled with dirt and the film goes dark and silent.