×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ’24 Hours to Live’

A hired assassin played by Ethan Hawke is on a literal deadline in ex-stuntman Brian Smrz's fun multinational actioner.

Director:
Brian Smrz
With:
Ethan Hawke, Xu Qing, Paul Anderson, Liam Cunningham, Rutger Hauer, Tyrone Keogh, Nathalie Boltt, Jeremy Yong, Susan Young, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Claire Berlein, Richard Lothian, Tanya Van Graan. (English dialogue)
Release Date:
Dec 1, 2017

Rated R  1 hour, 33 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5442456/combined

In a cliche that became institutionalized during the ’80s and began fossilizing somewhere around “Taken,” it seems no action hero has sufficient motivation anymore unless his loved ones have been kidnapped and/or (preferably) killed. At least three characters labor under that burden in “24 Hours to Live,” and that’s just one of several elements that might seem preposterous if this film took itself more seriously.

Veteran stuntman Brian Smrz’s second directorial feature doesn’t quite reach the “John Wick” level of high-body-count inspirational trash, but it gets close enough. Ethan Hawke plays the inevitable grizzled former operative dragged out of retirement into a hornet’s nest of global shootouts, double-crossings and evil conspiracies. So long as you turn your thinking cap off, this high-energy enterprise will provide plenty of less-than-highbrow fun.

Travis Conrad (Hawke) is a former elite soldier-turned-murky mercenary who’s spent years taking out presumed evildoers as a private contractor for shadowy org Red Mountain. Recently, he’s been on hiatus, however — mostly boozing it up in the Florida Keys alongside equally ragged pal Frank, played by Rutger Hauer — since his wife and son were killed a year earlier. The vacation is suddenly ended, rather forcefully, when former Army buddy Jim (Paul Anderson) insists, on orders from CEO Wetzler (Liam Cunningham), that Travis assassinate whistleblower Keith (Tyrone Keogh) before Keith can testify in a UN investigation. Iraq veteran Keith has already survived one onslaught of paid killers, and is on the lam under the protection of Hong Kong-based Interpol agent Lin (Xu Qing).

Flying to South Africa, Travis manages to insinuate himself into Lin’s hotel bed before delivering a most ungentlemanly post-coital farewell. But Lin does not die — the movie is chock-full of people who miraculously recover from grievous bodily harm. In fact, she manages to kill Travis not long after, but he’s soon revived, thanks to an experimental procedure Red Mountain has been working on.

The good news, natch, is that he’s alive. The bad news is that it’s only for 24 hours (and there will be hallucinatory-flashback side effects as a reminder of his impending mortality). Yet worse news includes the fact that “real Mengele-type s—t” was practiced on numerous human guinea pigs to achieve the breakthrough that has bought Travis’ temporary reprieve (as Keith witnessed). Also, trusty Jim may no longer be trustworthy, and seemingly everybody’s still-living wives and children are now under mortal threat by the ruthless Wetzler.

This is the kind of movie in which several dozen people must die so that one child might live — and that’s just one bullet-riddled set-piece among many. Bouncing from one colorful location to another, “Hours” handles its formulaic elements with enough vigor to avoid a sense of excess deja vu, let alone sentimental hokum. Indeed, the team-written script is so packed with incident and subsidiary characters that the titular “D.O.A.”-style gimmick gets somewhat lost in the shuffle. (The fadeout also violates logic.)

But no one, save humorless sticklers for narrative credibility, will care. And what business do they have climbing aboard this kind of genre thrill-ride, anyway? Smrz brings considerable gusto if not much conceptual originality to the pileup of dire crises, keeping the pace brisk and seriocomic tone variable. He’s helped by above-average contributions in all tech and design departments, lending this multinational B-pic the flash, if not quite the scale, of far costlier productions.

Also elevating potentially generic material is Hawke, whose disinterest in macho cool proves useful. He’d rather play up his deadly hero’s fallible distress than go for Rambo-like invincibility, which definitely adds more humor and humanity to the mix. Anderson and the rather briefly seen Hauer also manage some droll notes amid a supporting cast that’s otherwise solid but mostly has to play it straight.

Film Review: '24 Hours to Live'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Nov. 15, 2017. MPAA rating: R. Running time: 93 MIN

Production: (South Africa-Hong Kong) A Saban Films release of a Saban and Fundamental Films presentation of a Fundamental and Thunder Road Pictures production. Producers: Basil Iwanyk, Gregory Ouanhon, Mark Gao. Executive producers: Kent Kubena, Jon Kuyper, Gary Glushon, Jonathan Furman. Co-producer: Taylor Zea. CREW: Director: Brian Smrz. Screenplay: Ron Mita, Jim McClain, Zach Dean. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Ben Nott. Editor: Elliot Greenberg. Music: Tyler Bates.

With: Ethan Hawke, Xu Qing, Paul Anderson, Liam Cunningham, Rutger Hauer, Tyrone Keogh, Nathalie Boltt, Jeremy Yong, Susan Young, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Claire Berlein, Richard Lothian, Tanya Van Graan. (English dialogue)

More Film

  • David Picker dead

    David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

    David Picker, who headed United Artists, Paramount and Columbia’s motion picture divisions and was known for forging relationships with groundbreaking filmmakers and material, died Saturday in New York. He was 87 and had been suffering from colon cancer. MGM tweeted, “We are saddened to hear that a member of the United Artists family has passed [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content