Living in Boulder, Colorado, I know my share of adrenaline junkies, people who are not just extreme athletes, but get involved with dangerous sports for the thrill, the rush. Getting hurt is the badge of honor. It’s easy to wonder what motivates these people and one of the things I most enjoyed about the gripping, lyrical 127 Hoursis that it’s just as much a film about the self-indulgent culture that created an Aron Ralston as it is about him being trapped in a slot canyon and having to make the shocking survival decision to cut off his arm with a pocket knife.
It’s difficult to construct a film from an incident where the viewer already knows the outcome: Ralston doesn’t die in the canyon but escapes after having cut off his arm. That’s what made him a media celebrity and what made the film worth producing in the first place. But how can you create drama when the outcome is known?