Hours – Review
Of all the different kinds of movies we regularly see in cinemas, one subgenre that consistently finds its entries making their way onto guilty pleasure lists is the concept thriller. Movies like Speed, Law Abiding Citizen and Man On A Ledge gave us thrillers with that unique and quirky ticking clock element that you just don’t find elsewhere. Hours is the latest entry into this subgenre, and – whilst not it’s greatest entry – it’s far from it’s worst.
The late Paul Walker stars, in one of his final roles, as a man whose wife dies in childbirth on the eve of Hurricane Katrina. With the hospital evacuated and resources low, he’s left with no choice but to remain behind to crank (every few minutes) a hand-powered generator hooked up to an incubator which serves as the only thing between his prematurely-born daughter’s life and death. It’s the stuff Hollywood classics are made of: an everyman caught in an impossible situation and forced to do everything possible to protect a loved one during a natural disaster. Does it succeed as a taught dramatic thriller? Not entirely, but it does at least make a damn good go of it.
Walker’s performance noticeably peaks and troughs at varying points. During the film’s earlier scenes, in which he’s forced to interact with doctors and play a grieving husband, it’s undoubtedly far from his acting range; later on however, Walker picks up the slack impressively. Left to interact mostly with his (presumably animatronic) baby, and later a rescue dog, Walker proves just enough to carry what ultimately transpires to be a tightly written and suspenseful piece – an everyman tale that works on just the right level to tick the boxes required.
Undoubtedly, the film’s highlight is its third act, in which it (sadly too briefly) explores the darker notions of survival in a natural disaster; but aside from a brief lull in the middle, it’s a very decent survivalist thriller. Perhaps too far on the dramatic side of the concept thriller subgenre, but an admirable attempt at the very least. I personally always thought of Walker as an actor simply waiting for that role to make his entire career (Rob Cohen once called him a young Steve McQueen, a biopic role he was arguably ten years away from being perfect for) and whilst Hours doesn’t offer him that role, it’s nice to be reminded that Walker was ultimately worth more than being just “the other guy from the Fast & Furious movies” in a film that allows him to flex a few (but not that many) acting muscles.
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Paul Walker, Genesis Rodriguez