If you ever thought that being stuck between a rock and a hard place was an overused and limp metaphor, you should take a look at 127 Hours.
Everyone has read or heard this story at some point or another… Weekend rock climbing warrior. Slips and gets his arm crushed and wedged between a rock and cave wall. Forced to drink his own urine to survive. Eventually accepts his fate and cuts his own arm off to escape.
The big question is, can this idea of a guy alone in a dark cave fill two hours of screen time and not get boring and repetitive?
The answer is a gruesome yes. Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later…, Slumdog Millionaire) applies his normal hyper-kinetic style so things never get boring, using delusions, hazy flashbacks, and narration to keep the pacing up.
James Franco delivers the goods as the free-spirited but reckless climber Aron Ralston (whose real-life account the movie is based on). It’s tough to fill the screen alone for an entire film without being able to move and still provide an interesting arc for the character, but Franco manages the task admirably. He has a video camera that allows him to narrate the proceedings - kind of like Tom Hanks had Wilson in Cast Away.
The Cast Away comparison is pretty obvious, but I don’t think 127 Hours quite reaches those heights. Cast Away has a more epic feel, not just because of the huge plane crash and five-year timeframe. Thematically, Cast Away went a little deeper in its indictment of the manic modern lifestyle. 127 Hours has a message about connectedness and relying on others that does resonate in today’s culture, but it’s tied together somewhat loosely. So it feels like a somewhat smaller film overall.
127 Hours plays a horror movie with an inspirational ending, and a really good one at that. Don’t expect greatness, but it’s worth seeking out. Dan’s verdict: B