The Desperate Hour

Amy Carr’s life hasn’t been the same since her husband died and her oldest son Noah still hasn’t recovered from the loss of his father. She still tries to get by and keep the family together. Her day seems to start like many others. She says goodbye to her youngest daughter Emily who is about to leave for school while Noah remains locked in her room. She then goes jogging in the woods near her house to train. After talking to several people on her phone, she decides to turn it off. When she turns it back on, she receives an alarming message: an armed man is holding some students hostage in her son’s school, who has meanwhile decided to go to class. She tries in every way to get in touch with Noah but she can’t. Furthermore, she is in a rather isolated place and she is desperately looking for a means to reach the boy. She alone, with her smartphone, she begins a race against time to try to save her son.
For most of Race Against Time Naomi Watts is the only protagonist. She stands alone against the danger that she cannot see but only feel. She runs, stumbles, she despairs, tries in every way to reach her son and in the meantime she tries to get news of her.
The telephone is her only ally. She’s in an open space but she’s kind of trapped similar to Colin Farrell in the phone booth in Killer’s Line. As in that case, this film also amplifies Amy’s isolation and creates suspense in practically real time like John Badham in Minutes on Hours. Race Against Time is a carefully shot claustrophobic thriller written by Chris Sparling, the same screenwriter of Buried. Compared to that film there is no longer a coffin, but even though it takes place on location there is a similar sense of oppression and suffocation.
Phillip Noyce is a filmmaker specialized in the genre, with fluctuating results. In his best works, from 10 o’clock: dead calm to The Bone Collector, he puts his craft to the service of the story by gradually building the tension. In Race Against Time, in the original The Desperate Hour which recalls the titles of William Wyler with Humphrey Bogart of 1955 and the remake of Michael Cimino of 1990 with Mickey Rourke, the noises of nature are heard initially, then the sirens of police cars . But above all it is a film based almost exclusively on the voice. It’s the one that reactivates a sad nostalgia in one of the film’s most intense moments, the one in which Amy listens to an old voice message from her husband.

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