After the death of his father, Tim, Harry Jarvis (Dixi, High Strung: Free Dance) became an unruly teenager who regularly disobeys his mother, bullies his sister and tags graffiti of his own composition on the walls of his city.
During a school trip to a museum, Tim and his two best friends Vic, Ella-Rae Smith (The Commuter, Clique (TV)), and Alf, Alhaji Fofana (The IT Crowd (TV), Screwball (Short)), decide to secretly wander around the basement of the museum in search of the perfect place to graffiti something and leave their trace.
But following corridors after corridors, they end up crashing the secret reveal of a new machine that can, by scanning a living being, tell in how long it is going to die.
Curious, and although no tests have been done on humans yet, Tim decides to get into the machine while no one is looking and discovers he only has two hours left to live.
2:Hrs then follows Tim as he decides on how to spend his last hours on Earth with his best friends while being chased by two journalists and a scientist who want to be certain the machine is correct and therefore need to observe Tim at the exact moment the countdown will be over.
This is the first feature-film of both writer Roland Moore (Peter Rabbit (TV), Doctors (TV)) and director D. James Newton (The Moment (Short), The Americano (Short)), who previously worked (separately) on TV shows and short movie, but their lack of experience with feature-films never shows: the script is good enough, the pacing is great, and the movie is overall well-shot.
Thanks to the chase around town and the dynamic trio of friends, the movie is always entertaining. The friendship is especially believable – while their relationship is never really explored, we instantly see the connection and love between these three characters, all likeable despite their flaws, especially Tim.
After his father’s passing, Tim became a very selfish person, especially towards his mother and his sister, and learning about his own coming death only accentuated that trait.
Instead of trying to right wrongs or spend time with his family, he decides to make a quick personal bucket list that he hopes to finish before the two hours deadline.
It is only after a while that Tim realizes that caring about others, especially those he has hurt, is a better way to end things.
Unfortunately, while this is a very good message, the movie wants to have its cake and eat it too. The protagonist is never punished for the selfish things he did before, but instead is even rewarded for them. This makes Tim’s change of character less impactful.
Tonally, while the idea of a teenager learning he will probably die in two hours could become very dramatic, the movie is actually mainly a comedy, although it is sometimes taken to the extreme with for example the duo of journalists who are over-the-top comic reliefs who soon become annoying.
The movie also has a bit of science-fiction. Obviously, the machine that can tell how long you have till you die is a part of that, as well as a few other gadgets, but never too outlandish or even that much present to distract from the main story… except for one thing.
Tim owns a pet that he keeps in a matchbox, a CGI creature that looks like an alien slug and who has no explanation or context to its presence. The viewer is just supposed to accept the existence of this creature in a world that looks exactly like ours, in our present time, with a very few believable exceptions.
This is a very odd choice: the director could have simply give Tim a mouse, or an insect, or any small creature that already exists in our world, but he chose instead to create a completely alien being and offer no explanation to it.
My theory is that he thought keeping a pet in a matchbox would make the protagonist look cruel to the audience, while we would be more open to the idea that an alien creature could adequately live in such a small box with little to no breathing space; but by avoiding this idea of cruelty, he just created another problem of believability.
Despite this odd choice – that actually ends up making the movie almost quirky and probably more fun for children – and the other problems mentioned above, 2:Hrs is still a very compelling family comedy.