Starring: Paul Walker, Genesis Rodriguez, Nancy Nave
In New Orleans in the devastating hurricane Katrina, Nolan Hayes (Walker) is patiently waiting as his wife Abigail (Rodriguez) is in premature labour. Tragedy strikes as Abigail dies in childbirth and Nolan’s newborn is in a critical condition in an incubator. As the hurricane intensifies the hospital is flooded, loses power and is evacuated. Now Nolan is left alone struggling to keep the power running on his newborn baby’s incubator which her life depends on for the next 48 hours against impossible odds.
I will happily admit that I have never been a fan of the late Paul Walker as an actor and have certainly mocked him (for my review of the daft Vehicle 19 click here), so for a film that pretty much relies on the presence of its lead actor I was more than a little sceptical about Hours. Thankfully I would argue that Hours boasts Paul Walker’s finest performance by far; he brings great presence to our desperate protagonist that makes him believable and likeable, and the fact this film was released just after his untimely death unfortunately adds even more unintended poignancy.
The film itself is not great, but director Heisserer does a very good job with a very low budget. Admittedly (perhaps partly down to budget restraints) Heisserer struggles to fill the 90 minutes; flashbacks showing Nolan and Abigail may have been intended to add poignancy or character development, but instead just feel like an unnecessary distraction and filler. Scenes when Nolan talks through the pictures in his wallet to his oblivious newborn give us enough, but the fact he is trying to desperately keep his newborn baby alive and is a victim of cruel timing is enough to make us root for the protagonist anyway.
The scenes are often intentionally slow and repetitive, the camerawork claustrophobic and the cinematography captures perfectly the intense heat of the New Orleans weather once the storm has cleared. All this helps to give genuine tension and interest throughout. There are a few plot holes and the final third perhaps descends a little bit into silliness at times, but thanks to Walker’s committed turn, Hours has plenty of drama and tension to keep us interested and involved from start to finish.
Though with plenty of plot holes and at times unnecessary filler, Hours is an honest and heartfelt film that manages to engage if not ever truly grip, thanks mainly down to a real sense of atmosphere and the late Paul Walker’s best ever performance by far.