I was extremely eager to see this film after hearing that it was getting Oscar buzz. James Franco is an undeniable talent and I knew if anyone could pull this off, he would be the one.
127 Hours is based on the true story of Aron Ralston, a mountain climber who gets his arm trapped under a boulder in Robbers Roost, Utah and remains there for a little over five days. He told no one of his whereabouts which is the number one rule when hiking alone. Over the course of the five days he makes numerous failed attempts to free himself using his only available hand with the materials he has on him (which isn’t much). After drinking the last of his water he starts drinking his own urine to keep hydrated. He eventually begins to hallucinate about his family, friends and even a future son. He snaps back to reality with the courage to carry out a plan to amputate his own arm in order to free himself. After that nearly impossible task, he scales a 65 foot wall (yes, with one good arm and the other massively bleeding) and has to walk over eight miles before boarding a rescue helicopter.
Many were worried this movie was going to be a guy stuck under a rock with a camera on him the entire time. While he is immobilized for most of the movie it isn’t as simple or boring as that. The movie sets out with Ralston (James Franco) preparing to go on a hike and along the way he encounters two other hikers who are lost (Kata Mara and Amber Tamblyn). He insists on showing them a shortcut and they spend some time together filming each other dropping down into a water hole and enjoying themselves. They invite him to a party that they are having later that night and then they each go their separate ways. It is apparent that Ralston is very familiar with the area and moves around everywhere like a pro. When jumping down through a tight spot, a boulder unexpectedly falls on top off his arm.
There are moments when you think it can’t get any worse and then they do. I’ll admit it was not easy watching the part where he has to break his wrist and then begin to amputate with a dull pocketknife. You will want to look away, but then you will want to keep watching. Not just anyone could have done this, let alone survived. Ralston knew what he had to do and he wasn’t squeamish about it. Unfortunately for him many of the tools that could have helped he didn’t happen to have on him that day, so he improvised. Details are not spared in this film and that contributes greatly to an already admirable story.
Boyle captivates the true essence of this thrilling and courageous real-life tale. His flashbacks between Aron’s actual memories and what we later realize are hallucinations were flawless. Franco is fantastic in this role as he plays a happy-go-lucky Ralston in the beginning of the journey and then morphs into ultimate survival mode. You get to see the true actor that he in this role. If you ever doubted his acting this will keep you in check and have you agreeing with others that he deserves an Oscar nomination.