I’m a planner. I like knowing what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, and who I’m doing it with. The future is a big daunting place, so try as I might, you can only plan so far. This is probably why I have never enjoyed or been entertained by end of the world movies. I don’t want to know that my plans (and worries over them) are all for naught when a cloud of fire and death is twelve hours away. How would you spend your final hours?
There is a cataclysmic global event, and this is the end of life on earth. James (Nathan Phillips), a self-obsessed Aussie bloke, is heading to the party to end all parties – he doesn’t want to feel a thing when “it” happens. But on the way he saves a young girl Rose (Angourie Rice) from her implied rape and murder, changing his plan when he vows to help her find her father.
Zak Hilditch has written and directed an apocalypse movie that is distinctly Australian. But what sets it apart from the regular end of the world movie (think '2012', 'Armageddon', etc.) is not the epic set of circumstances that lead to the characters' redemption (and often continuing living) but the gritty reality of people dealing with the situation they have been put in. We are shown people partying, destroying what they can, having sex, taking drugs, killing each other and themselves – all to not have to face their impending doom. This moral dilemma resonates throughout the entire film and gives the whole thing a lot more gravitas than your average CGI-NY-tidal-wave-type blockbuster.
The acting is subtle and deftly directed. Phillips is fantastic as the man in the prime of his life struggling with his mortality and his morality, and Rice as Rose provides a youthful innocence as well as almost all of the humor in the film. There were a few missed opportunities to have a tidier ending – but that could have been my desperate wanting for some glimmer of hope in a hopeless situation. ‘These Final Hours’ is a gritty, compelling and uniquely Australian film that could definitely be successful on a global scale. It really does make you wonder what would you do knowing you (and everyone else) only had 12 hours to live?