In this remake of the 1955 film, which starred Humphrey Bogart, Mickey Rourke plays Michael Boswell, a treacherous convict whose escape is aided and abetted by Nancy Bryers, a young lawyer he has mesmerized into following him down the wrong road. After breaking-out of prison, Boswell and his accomplices, Albert and Wally (Boswell’s brother), drive several miles, and then hide in Nora and Tim Cornell’s suburban house, holding the family hostage.
The FBI, meanwhile, stalk Nancy, whom they believe will lead them to Boswell. Smart criminal that he is, Boswell is able to thwart the Cornell’s attempts to alert both a utility man and their daughter’s boyfriend to the danger. When a real-estate agent comes calling, he is murdered by Boswell. Mr. Cornell is wounded in a scuffle, and later forced to withdraw money from his bank.
Panicking, Albert flees, taking the dead real-estate agent’s body with him. He dumps it in the Utah wilderness and is soon killed by the authorities, who trace his stolen gun to the Cornell residence. Police and FBI cordon off the neighborhood and, having coerced Nancy into cooperating with them, send her into the house with an empty gun.
In the 1955 version, the husband, in a clever switch, confronted the killer, who held an empty gun to his son’s head, telling his son to “listen your father and do exactly as I say.” This was an incredible test of faith, not unlike the test between Abraham and his son Isaac.
In the remake, the scene is less dramatic, even so when Boswell pulls the trigger, it registers a hollow click. Boswell is thrown outside and, still clutching the empty gun, is gunned down when he makes a false move. The crisis over, the common man has triumphed.
The obscenities and profanities in THE DESPERATE HOURS are noticeably objectionable, as is the frontal female nudity. Moreover, the family is violently intimidated and terrorized, and a vicious murder is shown. Also, it is a shame to use the beautiful rivers and canyons of Utah solely to discard a corpse.
However, for the purposes of this review, THE DESPERATE HOURS can serve as an illustration to distinguish between its type of common man who triumphs over adversity, and the type of common man the Bible discusses. Read the 4th chapter of Colossians. It is an honor roll of the common man, men who just hacked it out, but were recorded in the final sentences of Colossians as foot soldiers in the army of God. Christianity is born on the shoulders of the common man who cares more for the things of God and the expansion of the Kingdom than he does for his own reputation or position in ministry. This is a marvelous encouragement for those who have been laboring at the nets, day after day. For instance, few people recall that Dwight L. Moody was won to Christ by a shoe clerk. These, then, are the men of the Church, common men who have found an uncommon grace from an uncommon God.
However, they are not the men found in THE DESPERATE HOURS — hours that you can redeem by avoiding this mundane movie.
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MGM/UA Distribution Co.
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Murder and graphic violence (brief); female frontal nudity; implied adultery; lying; and, approximately 21 obscenities and 10 profanities.