The merger of director Danny Boyle and actor James Franco sets off a certain spark that is enlightening. 127 Hours is the culmination of two great minds, and a great team, making for one of the most tense dramas in recent memory. 127 Hours sets comfortably in the "one location" genre. 127 Hours has a few select locations, but the bulk of the film takes place in a deep ravine. Like 'Phone Booth' and 'The Interview' before it, the film's bulk remains centered in one key location.
Aron Ralston loves exploring, and has set out for a trip into the Canyonlands of Utah's National Park. During the trip, he runs across two hikers, and assists them in finding an underground pool cavern, where they have fun and swim around peacefully. After they leave, Ralston further explores the Canyons. He steps upon a loose rock and wedge between massive boulders and slips down into a ravine. Immediately following is a huge rock which comes down and pins his arm to the canyon wall. Trapped here, Ralston's goal is to wiggle free, climb the ravine, and come to safety.
The film is named after the 127 Hours the real life Ralston spent in the canyon, striving to survive. The film documents the ordeal, where Ralston records himself on a video camera. Over time, the tension escalates, culminating in Ralston saying his goodbyes, expecting he will die in the ravine. As his water supply empties, and the heat penetrates even further, he is succumbing to exhaustion and dehydration. In the end, Ralston makes a decision which will decide his fate in the dark underground of the Utah badlands.
The film garnered a slew of awards for the directing, cinematography, and most apparently, James Franco's stellar acting performance. Through it all, he mustered a sensational portrayal of the real life hiker, coming a far way from his days as a High School freak in 'Freaks and Geeks.' The film movies swiftly in a flash, exuding excellent pacing and building the tension in all the right places. The film never moves away from the entrancing Franco, who displays an actor virtuosity that is impressive for his age. 127 Hours is a surefire tale of survival among many of the greats of the genre. It is a conquest film, man vs. nature, and who will outlast. The story has been told, but never as immediate.