The movie opens with our lone hero Aron Ralston, played by Franco, setting out extremely early for an all day hiking trip in Moab, Utah. If you have ever been hiking or wanted to do it, this movie certainly does an excellent job of wetting your appetite. We are treated to spectacular vistas of the open terrain surrounding Aron as he sets out for his journey. Along the way he bumps into two female hikers who have become a little turned around, played by Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara. After a somewhat awkward introduction he offers to guide them to their destination. As he is traveling with them, the girls as well as the audience realize that hiking and climbing is really what Aron loves to do. He takes them a route less traveled and shows them an excellent spot for swimming.
Eventually they go their separate ways and we get the first glimpse that Aron really is someone who does everything on his own. This comes in the form of an invitation from the girls to a party they are throwing. When asked Aron says he will come but the girls both know that will not happen. Once again we are following Aron on his solo journey as he navigates the treacherous terrain. When he begins to attempt a descent into a narrow ravine we immediately realize that we have to come to the first turning point of the film. Aron slips, a rock comes loose and when they both reach the bottom of the ravine Aron's right arm has become trapped between the rock and ravine wall. Naturally his first course of action is to try and pull his arm free, which does work. Then he tries lifting the rock itself; no success. After pushing, pulling, yanking, and every other bit of force you can think of, his arm has still not even budged.
Naturally after a few moments of panic when he realizes he can't get himself free and also screaming for help, he looks through his belongings to see what he has; no help there. As the hours pass and night sets in Aron has attempted a few different plans to free himself, from again trying to lift the boulder and also chipping away at the rock as well as using the rope from his bag to lift it. As the movie goes on and Aron really comes to realize that he may not survive he obviously looks back on his life; from the time he first set eyes on the open plains of the desert to lost loves, it all comes back for review. What he realizes is not that he has been a bad person, but that he hasn't let anyone into his life in any way. Everyone he has known from family to friends, he has kept at a distance. Why is that? We never truly find out.
Its as the hours have turned into days that Aron finally becomes truly desperate and for those of you who don't know the plot there is no sense in spoiling it. What you need to know is that James Franco has done an excellent job in this film. When he panics in the film as he realizes he can't get free, you feel that emotion just as strongly. When he looks back on his life and takes measure of it, you wish, just as much as he, that he had been les cold with people. It's hard to say what any of us would do in a situation like Aron Ralston's because we never imagine having to make that choice between living and dying. But based on all the stories over the years of humans who do what they need to, to keep living, it's obvious that the will to survive is more powerful than we ever truly realize.