Some stories do not need to be movies. 127 Hours is one of them:
“Hey, did you hear about that guy that fell in a hole and had to cut off his arm?”
“Well, that’s it.”
The only way to expand the human interest news piece into a feature film would be to: a) go into great detail about the hero’s backstory; b) turn the lengthy ordeal into a minimalist meditation; c) make the hero talk to a camcorder to cheaply fill in thin character detail while unnecessarily amping up the visuals to keep things “moving.” Danny Boyle chose “c”.
The filmmaker’s kinetic visual style is useful in only one scene: the arm cutting sequence, which is tense and brutal. The rest, a swirl of quick-cut hallucination, flashback, and ridiculousness (the camera’s, like, inside the water bottle, dude!) diminishes James Franco’s terrific performance. (Or as I thought upon seeing the film’s manic introduction: That’s enough cocaine, Danny Boyle.) Same goes for the screenplay, which stubbornly refuses to clue us in on the hiker’s character, not counting a few told-to-camcorder self-revelations dumped in as lazily as the uplifting finale.
What the story needed (if it had to be told) was restraint, calm, quiet. It’s as if Boyle was afraid of stillness. A shame.