“127 Hours” Movie Review

     “127 Hours” is director Danny Boyle’s follow up to his Academy Award winning “Slumdog Millionaire.”  This is the true story of Aron Ralston, the guy who you may have  read about several years ago when his 2003 hiking experience in Moab, Utah became a national headline.  I’m thinking this isn’t the type of film one would see not having already heard of the story and its outcome, kind of like Titanic, so I’ll cut to the chase (no pun intended).  He cuts his arm off!

     Aron Ralston is played in the film with gut busting intensity by James Franco in what is sure to be his best film to date.  The story is rather simple.  Aron goes on a weekend hike and doesn’t tell anyone where he’s going, which seems to be the norm.  Boyle goes out of his way to present every vivid detail in Aron’s preparation and for someone who seems to go on these types of excursions a lot, he seems to be quite unprepared as he is missing several important items needed for survival.  The film gets moving quickly and Aron is presented to us as a daredevil, clearly in it for the rush, and not really concerned with his own safety.

     As Aron descends into a canyon, he falls when a boulder he’s using for support jars loose.  When he drops to the ground, along with the boulder, he finds his arm is wedged between the boulder and the rock wall.  Thus, putting him in what seems to be an impossible situation.  At first, he takes out a Leatherman type tool and uses the dull blades to try and whittle his way out to no avail.  He carefully lays out everything he has with him in front of him and tries to formulate a plan, but nothing works.  The time frame the film is talking about, 127 hours, refers to the time bomb Aron is dealing with.  He is about to run out of water and food, and his sanity is being tested by the hour.  He needs to do something drastic and he knows it.

     It is at this point in the film where I realized why 127 Hours will likely not be a breakout hit and become a main stream favorite.  Boyle holds nothing back when these drastic measures are taken by Aron.  Yes, in order to survive, Aron has to forcibly snap both bones at his mid forearm, cut the tendons in his arm with the Leatherman tool, and use the dull knife blades to cut through the rest of his flesh in order to get away.  These scenes are intense to say the least and will likely turn away the squeamish.  I, on the other hand, am completely numb to violence and gore, so I certainly respect Boyle’s “tell it like it is” approach.  In the end, I see no other way this chain of events could have been presented effectively, other than the way Boyle chose to do it.

     With the exception of a few flashback sequences, Franco is in every scene in the film so it is his to carry solely.  And carry it he does.  This is one of those great individual performances people will likely remember for a long time and I suspect the Academy will remember in a few months.  Boyle’s dashing visual style is perfect for this material and he keeps the film moving at a torrid pace.  For a film about a guy stuck in the same place for days, the 90 minute run time flies by and carries with it a sense of suspense and dread even though the audience knows the outcome.  This is because its one thing to read about it, but Boyle and Franco make you live it.  You always knew the Titanic would hit that ice berg, but James Cameron made you live along side those that perished that cold night.  Same thing here, Boyle and Franco give you a front row seat in one of the most excruciating films I’ve ever seen.  With Franco, his star is sure to shine bright, likely on Oscar night (rhyme not intended) and Boyle has cemented his resume as one of the top directors working today. GRADE: A