With an exhilarating premise that is typically adopted in video console games than films, stunt professional Brian Smrz delivers an action thriller that doesn’t require viewers to think and question but simply to follow a man’s second chance at life.
Quite literally, the lead protagonist is given an additional 24 Hours to Live after his death that comes rather quickly after his mission went down wrongly. Travis Conrad (Ethan Hawke) is a past member of a certain armed forces who is called upon as a hired mercenary to perform a task commissioned by Red Mountain.
Conrad finds himself distracted by the subject of his mission, Hong Kong Interpol agent Lin (Xu Qing), and ends up dead before waking up in a clinical laboratory with a digital clock that is surgically embedded within his left fore-arm. With 24 hours ticking down (it reminds one of Andrew Niccol’s In Time), Conrad manages his final hours to settle some unfinished business.
Do not question the technology involved, as it is simply a plot device and the film’s premise to keep its central character going. Conrad finds himself compelled to take on tasks in order to save his loved ones. This is where 24 Hours to Live is hoping to infuse elements of Taken where Conrad goes after the people responsible for his demise and the threats made against his loved ones and humanity.
Cast members like Xu as well as Paul Anderson (who plays Conrad’s combat buddy Jim Morrow) are fairly undermined as their promising performance levels are wasted on a screenplay (by Zach Dean, Jim McClain and Ron Mita) that doesn’t allow them to wield it for the film’s greater achievements.
In the film’s culmination towards the end, Smrz sends Conrad engaging his adversity single-handedly in an exhilarating scene that also begs one to question its plausibility. Never mind how it is actually possible, Smrz focuses on delivering the action and it produces a sizeable number of body count (albeit shy from that of John Wick) to the pulsating soundtrack by Tyler Bates.
Along with its hint of a possible sequel using the very technology that started it all, it requires much more ambitious design and writing to establish a much more impactful sequel. Otherwise, Ethan Hawke in 24 Hours to Live still leaves a lot to be desired and does not convince one of its franchise potential.
- Jason Lin