"127 Hours" Movie Review (2010)

12/16/2010 Posted by Admin

"127 Hours"

Movie Review

Directed by Danny Boyle, written by Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, 93 minutes, rated R. 

By Christopher Smith

Nothing in Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" is new--if you haven't heard the story behind it, then you must have been living under a rock, which is so far beyond the height of irony, it's apocalyptic. Thing is, none of the familiarity surrounding the story steals from the experience of watching the movie itself.
In an odd, voyeuristic way, it actually enhances it.

The film, which Boyle and Simon Beaufoy based on Aaron Ralston's book, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place," chronicles what happened to Ralston (James Franco) in 2003 after he slipped between a crevice while hiking. As he fell, he knocked free a boulder that wedged half his arm against the rock wall. And then he was stuck--for 127 hours--until he had to do the unthinkable and hack off his own arm with the shortest and dullest of blades.

Sound intense? It is. But Boyle's coup de grace is that even though the outcome of this well-publicized story is known going into the movie, the suspense he builds from it is nevertheless masterful.

As the movie begins, Ralston is a jolt of unstoppable energy. He wakes early, tells no one where he's going and rushes off to the wilds of Utah, where he plans to do some serious biking and hiking.
Along the way, he meets two young women, Megan (Amber Tamblyn) and Kristi (Kate Mara). He charms them, flirts with them and then takes them on one of the most exhilarating dips into water caught on film this year. When they part company, the women are smitten and ask him to join them later at a party they're throwing. Ralston agrees, but he doesn't make it to the party. Fate has other things in store for him.

The scene that involves Ralston falling into the crevice shows us exactly why editor Jon Harris and cinematographers Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak will be nominated for Academy Awards. It's a slick sleight of hand that happens so quickly, Ralston is lodged seconds after he slips on the boulder, shakes it loose and is suddenly wedged by it. The rest of the movie is about Ralston's escape, which is so engrossing, these are the reasons Boyle and Franco will be nominated.

For Franco, nearly the entire movie rests on his remarkable performance. Alone in that crevice, he had to pull audiences into the story not just because his arm was lodged, but because he invites us to consider what we might do if pressed with the same situation. He talks to himself--a lot. He captures on video tape the entire proceedings should he be found dead. He conserves what water and food he has, knowing it soon will run out--which it does. And as his body begins to weaken, the hallucinations come, most of the fueled by all the regrets he's already stacked in his young life.

Meanwhile, Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") is a maestro behind the lens, once again leaning hard on a driving music score to give energy where it festers--and also where it doesn't. Those who saw Boyle's terrific "28 Days Later" will know the director has the goods to deliver the grisly scene in which Ralston, near death and with nothing to lose, hacks off his arm.

Like the movie itself, the scene is unsettling and realistic. But with that final yank to freedom, when Ralston's flesh and bones are forever pulled far and away from him, with it comes a kind of indescribable lift. After six days in hell, Ralston dug deep and found the courage to give himself a second chance at life.

Grade: A

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