THESE FINAL HOURS (2014) is a terrific Australian film that transposes the demise of humanity with the redemption of a single individual.
A redemption story. Yeah, yeah. We’ve seen that Hollywood formula a thousand times. But this isn’t a Hollywood film.
The film begins as an asteroid breaks Earth’s atmosphere and strikes the mid-Atlantic. Within hours, the spreading firestorm wipes out the Eastern U.S. and most of Europe. It’s spreading, one by one eliminating the continents, countries, cities and people as if they never existed. Earth is being scrubbed clean by fire.
Within 12 hours, the apocalypse will reach Australia. How would you spend your final hours?
In Perth, James has sex with his lover, who tells him she’s carrying his child. He can’t handle it. When the end comes, he knows it’s going to be horrific and painful, and he doesn’t want to feel it. When the end comes, he wants to be blissfully unaware.
He takes off, heading to a party to end all parties. Along the way, he rescues a young girl kidnapped from her father. He keeps trying to get rid of her. The last thing he needs is some obligation and wasted time when obligations no longer have meaning, and every minute is precious.
Besides that, James is a bit of a bastard. The woman he impregnated is not his girlfriend. He’s estranged from his mother. He flees the woman he loves because he’s scared. He only cares about himself.
Along his journey to the party, everywhere, it seems, people are reacting to their last day in a state of wild catharsis. Many are killing themselves. Many are murdering and raping others. Many are partying like it’s the end of the world, soaking themselves in drugs, alcohol and orgies.
James decides what’s really meaningless is all of that. He decides to help Rose, and in so doing, he realizes what’s truly important in life. How he wants to die. What it means to love and have empathy for another person. And in so doing, he gives us, the viewer, a powerful glimpse at a single shining moment of real humanity–making us realize, should the end come for the human race, it really would be a shame after all.
Terrific film that strikes a new path in a genre well trod by the same old themes. Highly recommended.