On the weekends, Aron takes his backpack, water bottle and trusty video camera and sets out to lose himself somewhere in Utah's vast Canyonlands National Park. Once there, he abandons his truck and hits the trails, enjoying some alone time with the great outdoors. But Mother Nature is a fickle mistress and, as she has proven in other equally engrossing true-life tales such as "Grizzly Man" and "Into the Wild", she has a way of teaching a lesson to those who get too comfortable with her. The opening minutes of "127 Hours" setup Aron's inevadible (and literal) fall. And like "Apollo 13", though the film's ending is well known, that doesn't make it any less thrilling.
Many thanks, of course, must go to Mr. Boyle. Not only does he use every trick in his considerable arsenal to keep his camera moving, but the script - which he co-wrote with Simon Beaufoy, from Mr. Ralston's cheekily-titled "A Rock and a Hard Place" - wisely avoids the over-use of flashbacks. The script has Aron wearily speaking into his camera between occasional glimpses of backstory told almost as a fever dream - his oft-ignored parents at home, his young sister learning the piano, his relationship (and break-up) with a girlfriend. As a result, the film has the loose, disjointed feeling of being inside Aron's mind as it deteriorates over the course of the titular timeframe.
As skilled as the filmmakers may be, the film lives or dies by Mr. Franco's performance. The actor may seem like an odd choice for the role. You'd think the studio might have wanted a real Method performer like Christian Bale (who might have actually chopped off his arm for the role). It turns out that Mr. Franco is a perfect choice to play Aron. The actor's goofy charms suit the character to a tee - particularly in an early carefree sequence involving two lost female hikers. When things get serious, dire and desperate, the actor proves he's up for the challenge.
The final sequence looms large throughout the course of the film. It is, after all, "the movie about the guy who cuts his own arm off to escape". No spoiler alert needed. Much has been made about people fainting in the audience during that sequence. And when it does arrive, well, it's not hard to imagine that the director who "reinvented zombie horror" with "28 Days Later" delivers.
The film's real accomplishment is that, despite the fact that we don't see Aron before or after the incident, we understand how he is changed by it. The film sets him up as a loner, someone who thought he could conquer the world on his own. But five days spent shoulder to boulder taught this incredibly resilient young man a valuable lesson. And, in more ways than one, we believe he's done keeping his loved ones at arm's length.
|Movie title||127 Hours|
|Summary||If you're looking for someone to direct a movie about a guy who spends five days pinned under a rock before finally hacking his own arm off, you're not going to do much better than Danny Boyle. Turns out, James Franco is also a solid choice as the lead.|