Although I can’t name a film that tells the exact story of These Final Hours, it still feels like overly familiar territory all the same. A post-apocalyptic road trip story in which a grown man befriends a small child, These Final Hours is somewhat lacking on originality or something significant to say, but it’s still a pleasant viewing experience even if it’s not an urgent or essential one. The movie’s central message seems to be that familial bonds & compassion for fellow human beings are more important than cocaine & orgies, which is an admirable sentiment, although a rather obvious one. As the protagonist James goes through his own self-discovery that drugs & casual sex aren’t the most significant facets of his life, you want to give him a sympathetic pat on the back, but it’s also tempting to let out a frustrated “Well duh, ya goof.”
It’s hard to blame James for having is priorities backwards considering the social atmosphere he’s operating in. The title These Final Hours is quite literal. The film depicts the Earth (or at least just the city of Perth) in its final hours as a world-ending heat wave (again, quite literal) threatens to end its very existence. There’s no real solution to this problem except in how to spend your final hours alive. James’ solution is to have sweaty sex, drink to excess, and indulge in ungodly amounts of cocaine. He even leaves behind a lover in search of a massive party where he can do all three at the same time on a much larger scale. As he puts it, “It’s going to hurt and I don’t want to feel it. I don’t want to feel a thing. I just want to get fucked up.” Hey, there are honestly worse ways he can spend his time, as evidenced by the rampant suicide and machete-wielding homicidal maniacs that create a violent obstacle course for him to cross on the way to the party. The more James struggles to reach his destination the more empty his goals seem, something that becomes less lost on him as he befriends a little girl who wants to spend her own final hours at her family’s side.
Although Jimmy’s choice between drugs & family seems like an obvious one for the audience, it earns him the moniker of “killjoy” among his friends, who are going through some kind of hedonistic hybrid of Burning Man & MTV Spring Break in the late 90s. The frothing at the mouth criminals (who are reminiscent of the violent hellscapes of Mad Max, Death Wish, and Miss Meadows) killing themselves & each other in the streets are doing even worse. James is a mostly likeable dude in comparison to the decrepit world that surrounds him, but his spiritual journey is far from profound. Understandably the movie works much in the same way: it’s good, but not great; entertaining, but not life-changing. I would be down to watch it a second time, but in no particular rush to recommend it to others. In comparison to how agressively awful other movies in its post-apocalyptic genre can be, that’s far from the worst fate.