VOD film review: 127 Hours
Ivan Radford | On 09, Mar 2017Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: James Franco
Watch 127 Hours online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
How do you follow up an Oscar for Best Picture? Chop James Franco’s arm off is how. That’s what we learned from Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. The film is the true story of climber Aron Ralston (Franco), who enjoyed hopping around Utah canyons in 2003 until he found himself the wrong side of a massive rock.
But Danny Boyle doesn’t start things there. Before the infamous joining of boulder and limb, we get a burst of movement, as Aron bounds from his apartment into the great outdoors. Accompanied by A.R Rahman’s trademark cacophony of drums, the screen jumps around with chaotic rhythm. And Boyle doesn’t miss a beat as he hammers out the exposition in the only way he knows how: with an addictive shot of split-screen energy.
Then we meet two lost ladies, whom Aron races to help. After some watery frolicking, they leave, he goes back to his lone wolf lifestyle, and promptly gets pinned to a wall. That’s when the title pops up – a cheeky hint of the humour that Simon Beaufoy’s script (co-written with Boyle) has in store.
Yes, there are laughs to be had, mostly thanks to Franco’s phenomenal performance. Leaving video messages to his mum and dad, he does desperate, determined and delirious, all the while breaking into terrified sweat. Unlike the claustrophobic thriller Buried, we know where this story’s headed, but Franco’s acting keeps things compelling.
When the crucial arm-cutting comes around, it’s a painful watch. More tasteful than mere torture porn, the flash of red keeps Ralston’s bittersweet freedom from becoming too sugary. Failing that, there’s Boyle’s range of camera shots. It’s over-edited, perhaps, but the pans and zooms give 127 Hours its own identity in a growing sub-genre of similar films. Boyle even shoves a camera inside the arm itself. For that alone, you’ve got to give him a hand.
94 minutes long, 127 Hours feels fast and brief. As a follow-up to Slumdog, it’s a solid effort. As a story of survival, it’s incredible.
127 Hours is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.