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


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