Hours’ stands as a final showcase for Paul Walker

Paul Walker and Genesis Rodriguez in Hours.

Two stars

Hours Paul Walker, Genesis Rodriguez. Directed by Eric Heisserer. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday; also available on VOD.

Before his untimely death two weeks ago, Paul Walker spent his whole career struggling to be taken seriously as an actor, and Hours was set to be his latest bid for respectability. Sadly, it’ll now stand as his final attempt at being a dramatic heavyweight, and it’s not exactly a strong effort on that front. Walker stars as Nolan Hayes, who shows up at a New Orleans hospital just as Hurricane Katrina is hitting the city, his wife (Genesis Rodriguez) prematurely in labor with their first child. Nolan soon ends up with a dead wife and a newborn baby on a ventilator, all while the hurricane rages and the hospital is evacuated.

Writer-director Eric Heisserer previously worked as a screenwriter on second-rate horror movies like the fifth Final Destination and the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, and Hours relies on similar cheap thrills. The Katrina backdrop is just a convenient device to build tension, and a failing battery in the baby’s ventilator forces Nolan to turn a hand-cranked generator every three minutes after the power goes out, giving the movie an endless supply of contrived infant-in-peril moments.

Called upon to carry almost the entire movie by himself (aside from a few superfluous flashbacks), Walker has a tough time mustering genuine emotion, although he does better in the movie’s few legitimately tense scenes. As far as his legacy goes, the goofy exuberance of the Fast and Furious movies is likely to resonate much longer than the grim tedium of Hours.

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