Movie Review of Hours (2013)

by JoHarrington

Paul Walker stars as a father, trapped in a hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, fighting to keep his daughter alive against the odds.

I watched this movie on the day that Paul Walker was killed in a car crash. I did so without realizing that the actor in the headlines and the star of the film were one and the same.

It added an even greater poignancy to an already tense, tear-jerking story.

Those expecting the usual Paul Walker film, full of car chases and action, will be disappointed here. Go and watch 'The Fast and the Furious' instead.

The rest of us will watch 'Hours', where the drama and tension is much more understated, but still nail-bitingly shocking for all that.

How Far Would You Go to Save your Child?

Most adults will push themselves to safeguard a baby. When it's your own, then the stakes are even higher.

Image: Paul Walker in HoursHours is really quite a simple story. Much of its claustrophobic, anxious drama relies upon the fact that the on-going scene barely moves out of a single room.

Nolan accompanies his pregnant wife to a New Orleans hospital, just as Hurricane Katrina is settling overhead. Born two months early, his daughter is placed inside an incubator. A ventilator keeps her breathing, while a drip provides nutrients.

While her father sits with her, it's not lost on him that the rest of the hospital is being evacuated to safety. Assured that a crew will return to collect himself and his baby, Nolan waits.

But the levees break and the crew cannot reach him through the floodwater.

It's up to Nolan to learn quickly how to keep his baby girl alive. A task not made at all easy by the fact that the power is down, and all he has to keep that incubator working is a hand-held crank on a portable generator.

Every second counts, as his tiny daughter could suffocate. But those seconds turn into nightmare hours, in which her father is pushed to the very limits of his own energy. He dare not sleep, nor is there a plentiful supply of food.

But he is stubborn. Everyone always said that. Now it becomes his greatest strength.

Official Trailer for Hours (2013)

Hours on DVD

Nolan Hayes (Walker) arrives at a New Orleans hospital with his pregnant wife, Abigail (Rodriguez), who has gone into early labor. Things quickly spiral out of control when the ...

View on Amazon

An Ordinary Father in a Desperate Situation

This is not a movie about a superhero in the traditional sense. But for one baby girl, Daddy is a true hero.

Image: Hunter in Paranormal Activity 2To my mind, the mark of a good film is that it moves you.  Hours did that.  I found myself thoroughly rooting for Nolan, as each new moment brought a new emergency.

I'm not sure how realistic it would be that a man and his baby could be forgotten in such a crisis, but his reactions felt very real indeed.

Nolan wasn't some genius, half of his attempts to help the situation were doomed to failure. I found myself yelling at the screen, in my own futile efforts to stop him making another mistake. Nor was he a complete idiot.

For much of the time, he doggedly sat and worked things out, often by trial and error. Looking at the job before him and stubbornly keeping at things, until they were resolved.

I liked that. I liked that you never knew which venture would succeed, and which would land them in more trouble. It added so much to a relatively uncomplicated plot-line, that never once dragged. In fact, I was shocked when the closing credits came. The movie had passed so quickly!

This is the perfect film for fathers to watch with their daughters. Perhaps a great gift for Father's Day too.

Hours on Amazon Instant Video

This movie was released in the US theaters on December 13th 2013. Two weeks after its star was tragically killed.

Hours Does NOT Pass the Bechdel Test

The female characters are very strong though. It's just that they never meet.

Image: Genesis Rodriguez in HoursThe Bechdel Test requires a movie to have more than one named female character. They should have a conversation, which isn't about any male character.

Hours does have several named female characters, not least the baby girl in the incubator in 90 per cent of the scenes.

However, they never have a conversation. One is a newborn baby, who can't even breathe for herself, let alone engage in meaningful discussions. Another is Abigail, Nolan's wife, who mostly turns up in flashback scenes, wherein the couple are alone together. The rest are nurses, who speak to Nolan alone in the room.

Hours only fails the Bechdel Test on the lack of two females conversing. But I personally can forgive that, on the basis that it's a story about a father and his baby daughter. Everyone else was merely a cameo in an extremely tense and beautiful tale.

Three questions are asked of each movie. They are so simple that it would be harder to fail than pass. They examine the role of females in that film. Nearly half fail.
Updated: 03/10/2014, JoHarrington
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
JoHarrington on 12/15/2013

It pings off the real world aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but other than that, I don't think it was a true story. Very suspenseful one though!

Ember on 12/15/2013

I haven't heard of this movie at all before now. It sounds really suspenseful.

Was this based of anything?

JoHarrington on 12/02/2013

I was quite surprised to find that it wasn't yet released in the USA. Usually our movies were shown there first, particularly when the film is American to begin with.

The Bechdel Test really is interesting, isn't it? The bar is so ridiculously low, yet so few movies actually pass it. Saddening.

Mira on 12/02/2013

Great that you picked this movie to write about because I wasn't aware of it. Thanks. And I love that you always include your Bechdel test comments. It's amazing, isn't it, how rarely women get to talk to one another in some of the best movies out there. I wasn't aware of it until I read your movie reviews.

You might also like

Movie Review of Flightplan (2005)

Jodie Foster stars as a recent widow, whose six year old daughter goes missin...

Movie Review of Vanished Without a Trace (1993)

Based on a true story, twenty-six school children and their driver are kidnap...

Margin Call With Simon Baker: Review of the First Film in JC C...

The high finance film Margin Call with Simon Baker is first, in 2011, before ...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...