Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: R (For language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images)
I've seen “Saving Private Ryan,” “Hannible,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Departed,” “The Godfather,” and countless other violent movies. All these movies effected me in one way or another, but it wasn’t until Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” came along where I actually got sick in the theater. As in I vomited, got dizzy, and would have left to do this in the bathroom if I didn’t want to finish the movie so bad. Is that going to be the quotation from this review: “The movie made me sick for it’s intensity but I couldn’t leave the theater because it was so engaging!” Eh, it’s original, give me that much credit. I mean it when I say this movie made me sick. From what I could hear around me other people were getting uncomfortable too. Keep in mind this is not a gross movie; it’s just extremely intense.
The story is based on the true life events of Aron Ralston (James Franco) who was a hiker and daredevil. Like many people his age he would routinely get frustrated by the hustle and bustle of the real world. For him the outdoors is where it’s at. The less people around the better. So much does he value his isolation that he doesn’t even pick up the phone when his mom calls him as he’s getting ready to leave. Then one day he falls down a crack and a boulder crushes his arm, trapping him in the canyon. So there he sits, alone with no one coming to save him. He’s in a deserted area and nobody knows he’s there. As he puts it so poetically, this is “an oops moment.” Movies like this are fascinating because they really shouldn’t be any good. At least, they shouldn’t be as good as they are.
Before the fall Aron shows a couple of lost hiking girls around his “second home,” and while he’s stuck he has flashbacks to his childhood and life at home, but otherwise the movie is largely just him in his rock. Water gets low. A crow seems to fly by at the same time everyday. Aron’s camcorder works so he makes his own videos to try and keep himself sane. But why is this so compelling? Probably for two reasons: The director and the actor. Once he gets stuck this movie very much becomes a one man show for James Franco, and he holds our interest the whole time. We like him. We know he did some stupid things. But then, don’t we all sometimes? He doesn’t deserve this any more than the next guy.
We hope he’ll get out of it alive. Director Danny Boyle adds an extra touch by filming the scenes so tight that we feel like we’re stuck there with him. There are no grand shots of beauty, no holding the action at a distance. When he needs to resort to drinking his own urine to keep his mouth wet Boyle shows us the evil ritual up close and personal so we KNOW how unpleasant this is! When the movie got to the point where I got sick I think it wasn’t the final act of desperation that got to me so much as the intensity of what led up to that. This movie doesn’t even reach two hours, but you’ll likely feel mentally exhausted before the final scenes. Thank goodness this all sort of ends on a happy note. At least it ends on a happier note than the latest Harry Potter film (and that movie has at least three major character deaths).