Hours Review

“… a well written, intense, and dramatic movie; but you have to get past the painful opening to experience it.”

During Hurricane Katrina many people were stranded around New Orleans due to major flooding as well as damage done by the storm. Hours follows Nolan (played by Paul Walker), a man who is trapped in a hospital during (and after) the historic disaster. The catch? His new born baby requires a ventilator to stay alive, and the power went out due to excessive flooding. The movie follows Nolan as he does everything in his power to not only keep himself alive, but also his new born daughter.

To be completely honest with you, the first 30 minutes (approximately) of Hours is a complete wash. When the film starts we are introduced to the characters, as well as the situation, and it is less than stellar. Paul Walker plays a man who is in over his head with the current situation, but he doesn’t do a good job of showing it. I think that the beginning of the film deals with a lot of issues that are very complex and interesting, but the way they are tackled is about as subtle as a hammer to the face. The film constantly breaks the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule, leaving you feeling offended that the filmmaker couldn’t trust you to draw these conclusions by yourself. This happens many times throughout the opening, and really the acting from all parties mirrors this. People walk around aimlessly and deliver lines like robots. It’s safe to say that if this movie kept on with this trend, I would be writing about how terrible it is and how nobody should wish that their worst enemy watch it, let alone themselves. Luckily, the film picks up fast.

Not unlike The Walking Dead, after a short nap Nolan wakes up to find the hospital deserted. The film then plays out like a version of Home Alone (albeit, a much darker version), but quickly takes a sharp turn once the power goes out. Instantly the film transforms into an edge-of-your-seat thriller, with every moment being met with bated breath. This works not only because the “victim” of this tragic situation is a baby (and everyone knows that babies and animals are an audiences weakness), but also because of Paul Walker’s performance. Hours, much like Buried or any other film like it, is a very special kind of film. The movie only has one character for the majority, so that character must be compelling enough to keep our interest. Paul Walker seemingly does this with ease.

The film separates itself by allowing chunks to be super intense, but also allowing ‘cool-down’ moments where the character reflects on his life by way of speaking to his daughter. This allows Paul Walker to really show all ranges of acting, and for the most part he nails it. The film is also ‘separated’ by news reels of the actual Hurricane Katrina, and I’m kind of torn on my feelings about this. On one hand, it does provide a real world view to show exactly how bad this disaster really was, and it also prevents the filmmakers from using terrible CG to recreate it. However, on the other hand I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that it was filler. Ultimately the film was about Nolan, not Hurricane Katrina itself, so those bits did feel a little out of place. Hours also deals with the topic of looters, but shows them in a way that I didn’t completely buy. Now of course, I have never been in a situation like Hurricane Katrina, so I’m not sure if this was an accurate representation, but in my mind looters wanted to survive not senselessly kill people. And even in the sense of surviving, I couldn’t imagine doing some of the things that were done in the film even if I was in a situation that was me or the other guy. Overall I just didn’t really buy that these situations were realistic, but they did create tension so I don’t hold it against the film.

Hours was also interesting to me because watching it was almost like playing a video game. There was a goal (to survive), there was a game mechanic (having a time limit to complete tasks), and there was a great setting (an abandoned hospital). This may have factored in to why the film was so enjoyable; it was a simple premise but one that had high stakes. Not only is the movie intense, but it is also fucking sad. I mean, of course with the subject you aren’t going to get a happy story, but watching Hours was like getting punched in the gut at times. And sure there were some pretty big plot holes, but in the grand scheme of things they didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the film.

Overall Hours is a well written, intense, and dramatic movie; but you have to get past the painful opening to experience it.

I give Hours a B

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