Falling into Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon and having your arm trapped against a wall by a huge boulder is no way to spend five and a half days, but that’s the premise of Danny Boyle’s survival movie “127 Hours.” Based on the true story of real-life daredevil canyoneer Aron Ralston, the film is a study of what could happen if you underestimate the great outdoors and neglect to tell your nearest and dearest you’re planning to spend a few days alone in the wilderness. In an age before universal mobile phone coverage was a thing, Ralston, played with hearty enthusiasm by James Franco, begins the film as a happy-go-lucky adventurer who enjoys riding his mountain bike around the desert, making video diaries, and showing fellow hikers around secret underground pools.
Life’s a series of spectacular sunsets and vistas for Ralston until a big boulder puts an end to the party. Here’s where things get interesting: Alone, desperate, terrified, and stranded in the canyon with no hope of rescue, Ralston has to dig deep and find what he’s really made of to survive the ordeal. He hallucinates, resorts to desperate measures, such as drinking his urine, questions his sanity, and films some heartbreaking video diaries for his mom and dad. Interestingly, Ralston also has a glimpse of the future and this hardens his resolve to survive, which, without wishing to spoil the film, leads him to some pretty dark places. Franco shines in the lead role as he conveys a range of emotions from blind euphoria to detached fatalism. Yet, it’s the fierce and unconquerable will of the human spirit to endure, survive, and live to fight another day that he personifies best.