24 Hours to Live – Film Review (2017)
Adam reviews the new Ethan Hawke action film 24 Hours to Live, directed by Brian Smrz also starring Xu Qing, Rutger Hauer, Paul Anderson and Liam Cunningham.
An Assassin’s life isn’t for everyone. Especially those looking to start a family. Sure the money is great but with no benefits package there’s a steep downside. Specifically, without bereavement leave it makes it near impossible for a wet worker to find the soulful solace of a scotch bottle to properly grieve the loss of their wife and child. Such if the case for Travis Conrad (Ethan Hawke) in 24 Hours to Live, the better than you’ll expect action thriller directed by Brian Smrz.
24 Hours to Live is Hawke’s continuing (and very enjoyable) journey as a later career genre leading man (also see; The Purge, Getaway, In a Valley of Violence, Predestination amongst others). The film finds Hawke in full-on John Woo double fisting 9mm’s blasting his way through waves of bad dudes after bad dudes. Conrad is the no-nonsense, hard boozing sensitive hitman that is very much from the John Woo/Chow Yun-Fat mold of assassins. This type of character plays to Hawke’s strength as the angsty internalized leading man. The actor makes his performance as Conrad and the even crazier aspects of the film plausible. 24 Hours to Live works because Hawke muscles through the sci-fi trappings that come into play midway through the film.
The film begins as most standard issue films of this type with Conrad being drawn back into the life after an off screen tragedy has struck him. Before anyone can say John Wick the film zigs instead of zags and finds us in very “mad scientists” fringes. It’s a bold move for the film that pays off in an expectedly emotional way. Smrz and credited screenwriters Ron Mita, Zack Dean and Jim McClain manage to make the second half less about the zanier aspects and push the emotional fallout. It’s a smart move that many films of this ilk would have not leaned into.
Smarter still is the casting of this film. Beyond Hawke, the cast is filled with faces both recognizable and new. Liam Cunningham delivers the right sort of cool dispassionate corporate bureaucratic villain that are often populating action genre but few are done with as much style that Cunningham delivers. Paul Anderson playing Jim Morrow, Conrad’s handler of sort is a great here proving to be every bit as capable as he is on Peaky Blinders. Xu Qing as an Interpol agent drawn into the story is solid.
24 Hours to Live at its core is an action film aimed to please. It delivers the goods in the last half where it unleashes all manner of violent vengeance dispensed by Hawke. This may not have been Smrz directorial debut but he’s created a lean stylish and surprisingly emotional action thriller will have us watching what the director does next.