If I was stuck with one arm under a rock for 127 hours, my first order of business would not be to stab at the rock for days on end. James Franco learns this the hard way in 127 Hours, a survivalist biopic from the legendary director of Trainspotting, Danny Boyle.
Franco, for the most part, is a strong performer. His roles in other biopics such as The Disaster Artist have led me to believe he is a competent dramatic actor. With his work within 127 Hours receiving praise from colleagues and critics everywhere, I decided it was only fair to check out his performance here and the film as a whole.
Well, I can’t exactly say I was all that impressed. It feels very much like a low tier Danny Boyle film, fitting somewhere above Sunshine and below Trance. It’s a fine movie, tightly directed and fits together very nicely as a box office draw, and that may be what I don’t like about it. With this change in pace to more Hollywood styles, the unique charm of Boyle’s direction is lost.
He becomes another nameless face, someone who doesn’t represent this film because it’s not a Danny Boyle film – it feels like anyone with a camera and a budget could’ve made this movie. None of the camera angles are all that great, and a few bits of the found footage scenes seem rather low quality and at times cliché to the point of cringe.
Franco’s performance doesn’t help either. Being trapped with him and only him for an hour and a half is gruelling, possibly more gruelling than the ordeal he finds himself in. To be fair there’s not all that much you can do with a one location shoot with one man, but even then they could’ve given him something interesting to say.
Of course, it’s not all bad – the eventual escape from the crevice is a great scene, surprisingly bloody and leaves us on a high note. A bit terrifying to think that this could happen to anyone, especially those who just refuse to tell anybody they’ve gone for a hike.
Boyle may be a background thought to the Franco vehicle of 127 Hours, but it’s nice to see he’s still there in spirit. With direction that anyone could’ve done and a performance that, again, anyone could’ve done – 127 Hours feels more like a project full of unfulfilled ideas, rather than something competent and enjoyable.