Danny Boyle directs and James Franco stars in this true story about a hiker who gets trapped and has to cut off his own arm. Franco plays Aron Ralston, an avid outdoorsman who thinks he is the shit, before nature teaches him a lesson he’ll never forget. Because he lost his arm. That’ll teach him.
It is a very unique movie. It starts out like an action film. It is very fast paced, lots of cool cuts and camera shots. Aron is full of life, he hustles around. He packs quickly, drives quickly, bikes quickly and hikes quickly. He meets two girls, and shows them around a bit, and leaves them just as abruptly as he met them. He hops around, he is mobile, he can’t stay still or in one spot for too long.
And suddenly he slips and a giant boulder pins his arm, and he is trapped in a narrow, isolated canyon. It happens instantly, and it slowly dawns on him that he can’t move. Franco demonstrates his acting chops, and as he struggles in vain to pull himself free, screaming out, “THIS IS INSANE!” You feel as though you are trapped too. You feel his panic, you feel his pain, his predicament.
Aron gradually calms down a bit and tries to logically handle his situation. He sees what tools and equipment he has. He rations his water. He tries a few techniques to move the boulder, but ultimately there is only one way to escape. First he breaks his arm. Then using a dull pocket knife (according to IMDB it was not a Leatherman), he has to cut through his flesh, nerves, ligaments, and arteries. It is a very graphic and detailed scene, and if you’re squeamish, this might not be a fun part for you.
The majority of the movie he is stuck in one spot. But through flashbacks and hallucinations we leave the canyon, so it’s not as confining as other movies like Phone Booth. Aron begins to discover who he is. He realizes how flawed he is, and how many regrets he has. Like not answering the phone when his sister calls, or telling his mom how much she means to him. But he really regrets not telling anyone where he was going, because he thought he was Superman and could do anything. He thought he could tame Nature, but instead he had to hack off his own arm. If I had a nickel….
The movie gets a bit surreal at times with the flashbacks, but it still is rooted in reality. You feel for Aron and experience everything that he does. Throughout the movie he speaks to his video camera and it becomes a journal of sorts. The real Aron Ralston had a video camera with him in the canyon, and he shared the footage with Danny Boyle and James Franco. I’m sure that was an extremely valuable tool, because you see Aron’s breakdown and it feels real, because it was real. Whole parts of his mental decline are just reenactments of a real person losing control. It is as close to becoming insane as I ever want to be.
This is a great film. It inspires you to go out and experience nature (just make sure you tell people where you are going). It makes you want to call your mom and have a heart to heart. It makes you glad you didn’t have to cut off your arm.
Critically Rated at 15/17