Paul Walker’s Hours is a chilling story about one father’s struggle to keep his newborn alive amidst the 2005 tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Walker’s performance becomes only that much more emotional given his recent tragic passing.
In one of his last interviews before his death, Walker told Terri Seymour of Extra, “I think just about anybody can relate to having something taken away from you,” regarding the struggle his character Nolan goes through in the wake of his wife dying in childbirth. Sadly the acting community and fans across the world had something taken away from them in November of 2013 when Walker and a friend crashed the Porsche they were driving.
Walker’s performance in Hours reminds fans of Ryan Reynold’s performance in his film Buried, in which the protagonist has to carry the entire picture by himself. While Walker had more people to interact with during the film (along with much greater space to work with) it still relied on his deep portrayal of this newly widowed father with a new baby girl in need of his help. Surprisingly he pulled this off better than many might expect.
Hours is an emotionally charged film that delivers one of Walker’s best performances to date. Drawing on more than his ability to charm ladies and drive fast cars, this latest film shows audiences a side that many may not have had a chance to see; undeniable proof that Walker could in fact carry his own in the drama arena.
Stranded in a hospital with his newborn hooked up to a ventilation machine, Nolan must wait for help to arrive to rescue them from the increasingly flooded hospital. With the threat of more than losing his newborn looming, Nolan has to search the hospital for anything that will help him until help arrives while manually cranking the dying battery that his daughter is hooked up to. Mimicking a type of Speed situation where every beep of the battery may be its last, viewers have to bite their nails every time Nolan has to rush back to his daughter to re-charge the battery. Filled with touching moments and heart-wrenching goodbyes, Hours finds a way to pull off the obvious low-budget and apparent editing flaws to deliver a film worthy of the subject matter it’s portraying.
Beaten down and both physically and mentally exhausted, Walker truly embodies his widowed character. The weight of the film, a heavy one at that, rests atop his worn out shoulders as he appears both fierce and vulnerable simultaneously. Pulling out memorabilia from his relationship with his wife to show their new daughter, Nolan begins to recount certain key moments with his now deceased wife, using his silent daughter to keep him from sitting in silence. It’s not until men begin roaming the halls with guns in search of anything they can use to survive that the heat is turned up and we find ourselves reminding Walker audibly that he needs to race back to his daughter to crank her machine before he can stop these men from any wrongdoing.
In its final moments, director Eric Heisserer (Final Destination 5) serves up one final blow to the heart, a scene that should be a part of Walker’s posthumous resume under the “Best Work” category. Without giving anything away, it is safe to say that Walker truly delivers in the film’s final moments. Any directorial or cinematic flaws made obvious in Hours can be over-looked in large part thanks to the performance Walker produces.
It is both tragically sad and gratifying that moviegoers are able to see this kind of performance from Walker. It’s terrible to know that he had this waiting for the world to see and only better things to come, but gratifying to know he was able to truly showcase his abilities as an actor and touch audiences one final time.
Hours can be seen on VOD as well as on DVD today.