14 hours is a hospital drama based on true story. Tropical storm Alison hits Houston and causes all kinds of issues but we focus in on the staff of Hermann Hospital who had to cope with extreme flooding that caused a power cut. As the staff battle to keep patients alive, we watch from different wards how they made sure the survival and evacuation of their patients went as smoothly as possible.
The disasters faced
A storm, drowning, split blood, surgery in a power cut, a car crash, premature babies, helicopters trying to land in the storm and a leaving cake that is ruthlessly demolished by a big headed surgeon!
14 hours takes place over a night and morning as storm Alison hits Houston and the Hermann Hospital. We mainly see this through the eyes and chats of Jeanette – a doctor who seems to know literally everyone. She’s friends with antenatal nurse Lily, whose leaving today and has brought a cake in to celebrate. Dr Foster decides to eat a giant slice like a gorilla infront of Jeanette before she can present it to Lily. This alongside the fact he sings in surgery and undermines everyone is about as close to a villain as we get in the film, but he does largely come across as a gifted if insufferable person. Cake is good for blood lab lady Jody who is heavily pregnant. Jody is also going to commit possibly the only shock of the entire film – she is not going to go into labour during the film! Is this a disaster movie first? I can’t think of any other heavily pregnant ladies that don’t.
Finnegan, who looks after the emergency chopper, airlifts in a lady from a big car crash just before the storm takes hold. The ladies daughter is also rushed in by road. The mum is rushed into surgery with Dr Foster, the daughter Amelia is looked after by Jeanette. As the storm hits, water begins to flood into hospital basement where the blood lab and backup emergency power is. When the power blows out – the hospital is plunged into darkness wherever and whatever you are trying to do.
Jody, Jeanette and a few others are stuck trying to salvage as much blood as possible as the flood water rises quickly. Meanwhile upstairs Dr Foster is stuck trying to perform surgery on Amelia’s mum in darkness. Nurse Lily, along with Dr Estrada and Phoebe have over 20 premature babies needing to be hand pumped oxygen and looked after as their incubators batteries start to fade. This is of grave concern for new mum Helen who feels as if her baby is leaving the world and is called to help save her baby.
Once the immediate dangers are out of the way, the film turns towards organising an emergency evacuation of the hospital. Dr Foster and Jeanette organise the evacuation and work with Chuck and Bronson from the city disaster relief. The problem is – they have to deal with the whole of Houston – not just the hospital. This means the hospital is largely on its own. Thankfully, a surge of volunteers arrive to help which Jody will organise whilst Finnegan works on trying to bring in other choppers to evacuate the critical patients where possible.
Will everyone be OK in the end?
Why is it worth watching?
14 Hours is the perfect kind of Sunday afternoon disaster movie. The entire movie has a PG late 90’s feel to it although it was made in 2005. You know that perhaps one or two people may not make it but on the whole good work will be done by all. You can tell this by the opening music, the made for TV font and the casting.
That being said, whilst its light on disaster head-on, I did find all the characters bar Dr Foster to be likeable and approachable. Even the rest of the cast seemed united in thinking Dr Foster was a tool which made it a little in joke to say he is nasty when he wasn’t around. There is more than an element of ‘Mummies PTA’ about some of the staff though – especially Lily, Phoebe and Dr Estrada and anything involving the babies. It was just a little too saccharine.
Where the film did excel was when the evacuation kicked in. Understanding how the big plans all come together, how patients are ranked and allocated and so on – it was all interesting to see unfold. The cast, the amount of extras involved and its razor focus on just one location and everyone in it meant that its small budget was never really on show (aside from news footage of flooding). Instead, its about individuals and their priorities and how to keep calm and methodical in a crisis. In many ways, 14 hours stays quite matter of fact without going for the over the top camp factor. That may mean its a bit sedate at times but I think it makes the film better in the long run. Its as much of a love letter to doctors and nurses as it is to surviving a crisis. With decent acting and plenty of good deeds on show, its a thank you worth saying.
Whilst cutaway inserts of found footage never looks great, this is the only flimsy bit of filming that takes place. The car crash aftermath is well put together for Amelia and her mum. The rain and chopper effects are largely good too as they are real. The big setpiece involves Jeanette and two nurses in the flood blood lab. As it uses a huge amount of water, I think it looked really good and much better than most modern low budget movies. A budget well used and make up well put on.
What I enjoyed most about the characters in 14 Hours is their comradery. Jeanette seems to know everyone to the point where if you were making a drinking game…oh hang on, that’s what I do for every review! It isn’t just her though – even Dr Foster by the end of it becomes a bit more human and all the doctors and nurses are working together for a common cause. It is never explicitly called out, but it feels like a sisterhood with a few brothers in the mix. Plus, Jody is possibly the most likable and capable pregnant lady in disaster movie history. Take that everyone!
He’s safe. He’s in good hands.
Yeah, but they’re not mine.lily telling jeanette exactly how every mother feels in an emergency about their child.
Three memorable moments
- Blood lab flood escape for being a genuinely decent stunt.
- Helen and her husband making the hugest deal out of walking up some stairs in the dark when we can clearly see them because of the amount of outside light filling the screen.
- The granny who wants to be the last one out. I think she just wanted the PR shot as wasn’t as sweet as we think she was…
The obligatory weird moment
There is something wonderfully British about one of the extras that is in some of the shots of the volunteers. In England, we have a running joke that if there is a crisis, the women will dive into the kitchen to make sandwiches. Funeral? 50 cheese and tomato please. After the electrics explode, janitor Gary has nothing to do in the film so they give him bread to deliver to a woman who is furious picking up slices of bread and laying them down. Picking them up, moving them around. At no point in any of the shots is she actually making any sandwiches. Lady, you’d be rubbish in England.
The drinking game
Whilst I’m tempted to go with Jeanette saying hi to someone, anyone and everyone I’ve gone with the following. Each time you see a baby and think ‘is that a doll?’ The premature baby unit is full of them and each time I see one, I can never tell. Can you?
14 Hours is a gentle but interesting film about how to manage a crisis when everyone else is busy having their own one. Through nice characters, decent acting and a wisely spent budget, the film stays in its own lane to provide a Hallmark-esque warmth by the end. It will be too sweet for some but if you need some kindness in the world, this is a good one to pop on.
Rating: Good ( 3 /5 )
If you enjoyed 14 Hours, then you may enjoy…
- City on Fire – When a hospital is caught in the middle of a city fire. Very camp.
- Hell’s Rain (Anna’s Storm) – Similar Hallmark vibes in a character driven disaster.
- Night of the Twisters – Late 90’s TV tornado movie with a similar gentle vibe.