FILM ARCHIVES

With the Bloody “24 Hours to Live,” Ethan Hawke Assumes the “Taken” Formula

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Brian Smrz’s high–body count thriller 24 Hours to Live catches up with assassin-extraordinaire hero Travis Conrad (Ethan Hawke) on the one-year anniversary of the death of his wife and son, a somber occasion he and his father-in-law (Rutger Hauer) commemorate with Captain Morgan on the beach and ashes strewn into the sea. Afterward, still in a rum stupor, Travis gets lured out of his Florida Keys “hiatus” by an old friend and colleague (Paul Anderson) with a job offer paying $1 million a day. The target is a 26-year-old looking to blow the whistle on Travis’s morally bankrupt former company, Red Mountain, which sounds like the name of a bad soda but here is a glass-encased Goliath of the private military-industrial complex, complete with a CEO (Liam Cunningham) who exhibits satanic scowls while dictating orders in the corporation’s fish tank–embellished Cape Town headquarters. Protecting the whistle-blower is a Hong Kong–based Interpol agent (Xu Qing) who quickly makes heads or tails of Travis’s agenda and shoots him, seemingly fatally, before a Red Mountain–conceived experimental surgery rescues Travis from the brink of death — but only for 24 hours, a window the broken man uses to exact revenge on the evil corporation he spent years abetting. The fairly high-concept premise leads to some inspired sequences, like one startling near-death montage of memories (family outings, killings on the job) from Travis’s p.o.v. that plays as if someone had smuggled thirty seconds of La Jetée into a Taken sequel. But this is mostly entertaining ridiculousness, threaded together by the reliable Hawke, who gamely grits through boilerplate macho-melancholy lines of dialogue, among them the aspirationally morose “I don’t think I do have a soul. Probably never did.”

24 Hours to Live
Directed by Brian Smrz
Saban Films
Opens December 1, Village East Cinema

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 1, 2017

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