The late Paul Walker practiced the kind of manly American acting that often doesn’t look like acting at all. In movie after movie, many of them of the fast and/or furious variety, Walker performed the difficult trick of seeming to really be the apple-pie tough guys he played. Like Keri Russell in a romantic comedy, Walker managed to make his striking gorgeousness seem incidental, something his more-human-than-most action heroes just happened into and maybe didn’t even quite know about. Now, just weeks after his out-of-nowhere death, Walker is starring in a film that demands the opposite of him. In Hours, he shows his work. The movie, written and directed by the promising Eric Heisserer, is set almost entirely within a gloomy urban hospital where Walker’s character Nolan’s newborn child is being kept alive by a respirator. Problem is, said hospital is in New Orleans in 2005. Katrina comes, of course, knocking out the power; everyone flees except for Nolan and the baby, whom Nolan keeps alive by pumping a battery charger that only powers the respirator for three minutes at a time. By the end, when Walker and the audience have been well and truly harrowed, the movie has come to resemble 2013’s more fashionable lone-hero-versus-the-elements thrillers, Gravity and All Is Lost. Hours aims for the Redbox rather than the art house, but Heisserer’s pulpy, stubbornly unexistential take on the genre proves just about as potent — here’s a hero who’s maybe like you, suffering like you might but also scraping through like you hope you could. And here’s an actor letting us see the effort that went into all those performances that always seemed almost effortless.
Eric HeissererPaul Walker, Genesis Rodriguez, Christopher Matthew Cook, Judd Lormand, Nick Gomez, Michelle Torres, Kerry Cahill, Tony BentleyEric HeissererThe Film Arcade