As a young adult without any children and someone who fortunately hasn’t been put in any serious life or death situations, it’s not easy for me to relate to anyone in either situation. It may sound like a weird combination but it’s that exact situation “Hours” is centered around.
The 2013 film was one of Paul Walker’s last completed films before his untimely death in November 2013 and it left a worthy entry to his legacy. Walker plays Nolan Hayes whose wife goes into labor several weeks early and his daughter is born prematurely and needs a ventilator for two days before she can breathe on her own. His wife dies during the birth leaving him alone with his daughter in the hospital.
The situation escalates when it’s revealed this is all happening at a hospital in New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina rips apart the city. The hospital is quickly flooded and evacuated but in the chaos, Hayes and his newborn are left behind. When the electricity inevitably goes out, Hayes finds a generator he has to crank himself that runs on three-minute intervals.
What ensues is his race to restart the generator every three minutes while trying to gather supplies and find help in between. While that may sound impossible, the film does a great job of realistically setting up this seemingly hopeless situation. Hayes has to combat injury, looters and insanity brought on by sleep deprivation while battling to keep his daughter breathing.
On top of all this, Hayes has a very personal struggle of dealing with the loss of his wife and in a way, forgiving his own child for it. One of the first words he speaks to her is, “I don’t know you.” It is a simple yet heartbreaking way of relaying his hurt of losing his loved one and trying not to blame it on his daughter.
While the introduction may seem heartless, the drive he has and the lengths it pushes him proves Hayes’ love for his daughter and Walker brilliantly portrays such a ferocious yet vulnerable desperation in his performance. It’s through that desperation that the viewer truly feels what Hayes is. They feel that pain and desperation and above all, the hopelessness of only being given three minutes for help.
It takes a simple plot but utilizes clever situations and some very real and grounded human moments to create an emotional suspense thriller. It creates a feeling of sadness for Hayes’ ordeal but also an appreciation of the lengths a parent will go to for their child, even if they barely know each other.
“Hours” is by no means an Oscar-worthy movie or in the pantheon of great suspense films but it is an enjoyable and emotionally-driven experience that Paul Walker undoubtedly would’ve been proud of.