Insane folks with machetes, crazy driving, orgies, drugs, and lots of swearing. The addition of the end of the world makes this film a different from the average Australian day…
The 2013 Australian film works much like Nevil Shute’s On the Beach in fast motion. Instead of months to await the ultimate end of the world, These Final Hours gives everyone 12 hours. (Granted, it seems that people knew the event was coming). After a massive meteor strike, the coming shockwave/firestorm will kill all life. The film follows James, a young Australian man, as he works to come to terms with what is happening.
James is a self-centered druggie asshat for the first chunk (perhaps even half) of the film. In his quest to get to a party, he rescues a young girl named Rose from sexual assault. Now saddled with a child, James works to hand her off to anyone who might be willing. Though he will eventually accept his role as her protector, it seems to take a long time.
There may be problems with the narrative. I will not unpack these in more detail to avoid spoiling the film. The character narrative is perhaps the least interesting aspect of the movie (though the acting is quite good). What makes this film stand out from other apocalyptic narratives is the excellent attention to detail. Christmas trees in the summer, notes to loved ones, messages on buildings—all of these things add to the finality of the event.
The directing is usually good. Sometimes, the camera gets jumpy and awkward for no real reason. The constant cuts are meant to add suspense, but for me, they just added annoyance. Further, the fast-forward destruction allows the viewer little time to see the characters develop. A weakness that students of mine have said On the Beach had was that it is too slow. These Final Hours is perhaps too fast. Though the end result is the same.
The conclusion of the film is harrowing. The fragility of organic life is on full display here. The film shows how in the blink of an eye, all existence that we know of could vanish. A powerful and depressing thing to consider. However, it does bring issues into focus—such as nuclear proliferation for Shute. An American remake of the film is forthcoming; why, I do not know. The film is worth seeing. Don’t wait for a remake. 6.5/10