Movie Review: 127 Hours (Rating: 3/5)

Directed by: Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco.
Music by: A.R. Rahman
Genre: Drama/Adventure
My Rating: 3/5

“127 Hours” is my second Danny Boyle movie. However, that does not mean “Slumdog Millionaire” was my first Boyle movie; rather it was “28 Days Later.”

And one of the reasons for not watching “Slumdog Millionaire” was “28 Days Later.” So you can imagine what kind of an impression “28 Days Later” must have left on me that it dissuaded me from watching an Oscar winning movie like “Slumdog Millionaire.”

But to be really honest, that was not the only reason why I didn’t watch “Slumdog Millionaire.” If it had been any other movie, I would have watched it out of sheer curiosity on why it was such a big hit. But the subject Boyle dealt with was of very little interest to me.

Well actually no, that’s not entirely correct. It’s not the subject that is of little interest to me, but it is the “subject” who is dealing with the subject of the movie which is of very little interest to me.

I could not care less on learning what the white man’s perspective is on India’s social problems. And A.R. Rahman’s “Jai Ho” song didn’t help either. It was probably the first Rahman’s song I actually didn’t like. That’s coming from a huge Rahman fan.

I think I should stop talking of “Slumdong Millionaire” now. This review is about “127 Hours” and not “Slumdog Millionaire” or why I despise Hollywood movies on India.

“127 Hours” is based on a true story of a man named Aron Ralston, played by James Franco in the movie. Back in 2003, while on a hike in the mountains of Utah, Aron falls through a narrow crack in a mountain and in the process gets his hand stuck underneath a boulder.

And to give you a sense of how dire the situation gets for Aron, he reaches a point in his ordeal (in the movie) where he gives up hope of ever being able to get his hand free and tapes his goodbyes to his family and friends on a camcorder, which he happened to be carrying on him at the time.

As the name of the movie suggests, Aron stays stuck in that narrow, barely three-meter-wide chasm for 127 hours, which is a little more than five days.

The entire movie is on what he goes through in those very long and harrowing five days of his life; and how he deals with the situation he so unluckily finds himself in.

The man had to face his mortality in a way which I believe very few people ever have or will ever have to in their lives. Being starved to death slowly in the middle of nowhere, all alone, is a situation hard to even imagine.

I actually remember back when this was a huge news story in the media. So I’m not surprised they eventually made a movie on it. It was big news back then.

But coming back to the movie; as I’ve made it quite clear in the beginning, I believe Danny Boyle sucks as a director. So as far as direction goes, I find very little to praise. I give Boyle no credit for how good the movie turned out to be. I actually believe, the movie would have been better if he were not the director.

But what saves the movie from Boyle’s convoluted sense of direction is James Franco’s superb acting and A.R. Rahman’s amazing music.

After watching Franco give his dull and uninspiring performance in “Spiderman,” who could have guessed Franco also knew how to act. He has managed to earn a new fan.

Since the movie is all about him being stuck in a narrow canyon, you only have Franco to hold your attention and keep you engrossed in the story with some of his profoundly poignant moments. There isn’t  much else going on in the movie: it’s him, nature and his momentary flashbacks.

Though Franco’s performance is excellent, I feel if it had not been for A.R. Rahman’s captivating score to the movie to fill the silence, Franco’s acting skills — no matter how good — could not have saved the movie from bombing at the box office.

I know critics are raving about this movie and it has even been nominated for the Oscars; however, I feel the movie is getting unfair attention and hype because of Danny Boyle’s new-found reputation as a “great” director after his previous hit, “Slumdog Millionaire.”

So to answer the million dollar slumdog question: Do I think you ought to watch it?

I say: totally.

But don’t expect to be swept off your feet. Go in with low expectations, and you’ll probably come out feeling rewarded.

About Khalid Jaleel

Khalid Jaleel is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science. He can be reached via email at: khalidj [at]

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  1. ” I believe Danny Boyle sucks as a director. So as far as direction goes, I find very little to praise. I give Boyle no credit for how good the movie turned out to be. I actually believe, the movie would have been better if he were not the director.”

    I read quit a lot of reviews without bothering to comment on them ,but it statements like these that shakes you off your laziness.

    Although we live in a society that slaps around the word great like it was a clearance sale , but to say that Danny Boyle sucks as a director is quite scathing for fanboys like me .

    I too had some reservations against Slumdog Millionaire and no, it was nothing to do with the ‘portrayal of India ‘.
    Although wouldn’t club him as great ,what makes Danny boyle an orignal voice is his unique cinematic style .Try ‘trainspotting’ .
    Haven’t seen 28 days later as i dont like zombie films .
    Now , coming back to the film , i think there aren’t too many cinematic(the usually run of the mill kind) possibilities when you have to pictures a man trapped in a hole for five days .
    Danny boyle does it amazingly by bringing out the real ,surreal and the imaginary world that Aron Rolston finds himself in .He does it with honesty and without being too symbolic .He focusses on the character and how the carefree , adrenaline – junkie
    with that fall realizes how vulnerable is the life, that he took for granted. The character needed to do deliver ,and James franco is just brilliant .And anyone couldn’t have done it better that Danny Boyle .The shot taking and the scenes in the hole are just amazing .Its very difficult to deal with subjects that have one character-and one scene setup. But the screenplay , does that beautifully ,never boring you, always gripping.
    p.s- Sir, leave a spoiler alert if you are going to give the whole plot.
    And no, danny boyle does not suck!!!!

  2. @Ashutosh: First off, I appreciate your comment. I consider it to be an achievement and a compliment if I can motivate someone to comment on my articles. I thank you for that.

    And based on your comment, I’m guessing you’re not actually soliciting a counterargument from me. If you are, then I want you to know that my review is simply an opinion. And I am also aware that my view on Boyle is radically opposed to the general opinion.

    Second: And this is for everyone reading this: There are NO spoilers in my review. The fact the movie is about Aron being stuck under a boulder is common knowledge for anybody who knows anything about the movie. Believe me, knowing this about the plot to the movie will not spoil it for you.

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