You've got to hand it to Adrien Brody, perhaps the gamest actor working in films today.
An Oscar-winner, he's willing to go wherever he thinks the interesting work is, whether it's a popcorn movie like Predator or the string of low-budget indy films he's made in the past few years, including his latest: Wrecked.
Like last year's Buried, Wrecked (directed by first-timer Michael Greenspan) is about a guy who comes to and finds himself trapped. Now what?
In this case, the man (Brody, playing a character who is never named) wakes up in a smashed-up car at the bottom of a gorge. The car - which also contains a dead man - apparently has flown off a mountain road and come to rest in its current spot. Battered, bloody and confused, Brody can't remember how he wound up there. He also finds that he's trapped, his leg pinned under a stoved-in dashboard and the car door next to him too crushed to open.
Using whatever is at hand - in this case, the gear shift arm (and, eventually, a revolver he finds under the seat) - he tries to pry himself loose. When it rains, he uses the ashtray to catch water to drink. But he's hungry, with no food in sight. He's got to get free or starve to death (or fall victim to the puma he sees roaming the hillside).
The problem laid out by writer Christopher Dodd for Greenspan and Brody eventually changes, when Brody finally does free himself from the car. But he's got a compound fracture of one leg, which he lashes to a make-shift splint, using his own belt and the car's seatbelt (despite having no knife or other blade with which to slice it loose). When he pries open the car's trunk, he discovers a big bag of cash, which triggers vague memories: Was he, in fact, part of a bank robbery?
Still, his big concern is getting himself rescued. But he can't seem to find a tree branch big enough to use as a crutch, so he's forced to crawl - or, more accurately, pull himself along with his arms - to try to reach the top of the embankment. When that proves fruitless, he goes the other way, downhill to a river.
But Wrecked eventually crumbles under its own weight when Greenspan toys with our notions of reality. Gradually, it becomes evident that at least some of what we're seeing is happening in Brody's imagination. Such as the hunter who comes looking for the money and takes a potshot at Brody - or the German shepherd who appears and acts as a companion as Brody tries to find his way to civilization.
After a while, the drama drains from the film, though Brody never flags in his energetic attempt to make us feel the pain and frustration his character is going through. Whether he's trying to climb a hill or being swept away in river rapids, Brody is fully committed to the ordeal this character is undergoing.
Wrecked ultimately crashes from lack of story. Brody's tenacity in his Sisyphus-like mission isn't enough to save it.