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24 Hours to Live Review

24 Hours to Live is a 2017 thriller about an assassin who seeks redemption after being given a second chance at life.

The lone assassin has, over the many decades, become one of cinema’s more enigmatic and popular characters, the subject of a number of hugely successful films. They seem to embody something cathartic in us, the redemptive, humanistic evolution within each that draw us along on their troubled journeys. Now comes Brian Smrz‘s 24 Hours to Live, a solid action entry into the genre that’s not going to rewrite the book but is plenty entertaining.

After a bullet-ridden opening in Africa, we meet Travis Conrad (Ethan Hawke), a former special forces soldier turned killer-for-hire, who is very good at his job. A year ago though, another gunman killed his wife and daughter and since then, is on hiatus, spending time with his father-in-law Frank (Rutger Hauer). Naturally, that doesn’t last long as his old pal Jim Morrow (Paul Anderson) shows up with a remarkably good job offer, one he can’t pass up. He’s hired to kill a high value target, one we met in Africa who was saved by a particularly well-trained Interpol agent named Lin (Qing Xu). When Travis tracks her down, he learns the hard way just how so, and ends up dead. Well sort of. An experimental top secret procedure revives him but has one side effect: 24 hours of life. Now, with a literal countdown running him down, his body under siege from the effects of the surgery, he escapes the facility and sets about to stop what’s been put into motion.

Ethan Hawke might not be the first name to top a list of action heroes, but much like Bruce Willis did in the original Die Hard, plays into the everyman role pretty well and convinces all the way through that he is what Travis is. Smrz keeps the action clicking along with decent speed and while much of it is familiar, there’s no lack of momentum. The story centers on a conspiracy that swallows Travis and lends the turnaround in the character some believability, or at least some credibility in justifying why the assassin must make the journey that he does. However, despite the larger themes, this is less about the intricacies of the plot and more about threading together action set pieces, some of which, obviously, make little sense, one being the outrageous, destructive lengths the bad guys go to in trying to quiet one man, seemingly making themselves much more public than they surely want to be. 

Still, for what it is, 24 Hours to Live is a lively thriller with another great performance from Hawke who continues to redefine himself in plenty of genres. He and Xu have good chemistry and truly give the otherwise generic story some lift, even as it treads along a well-worn path, including a ludicrous digital countdown embedded in Travis’ arm that is laughable in how it works only as a narrative device for the audience than anything with weight.

There’s really nothing all that wrong with 24 Hours to Live, and in fact, is a competent and well-acted thriller that follows all the rules, providing just what it intends. Fans of Hawke surely will get a kick out of this, the actor giving the older man in action trend a good turn, making much of the movie pretty compelling. Smrz, a stunt coordinator by trade with a long list of films to his name, including Live Free or Die Hard and Minority Report among many others, knows action, and for junkies of such will surely satisfy comers. Never disappointing, this is a solid recommendation.

24 Hours to Live Review

Movie description: 24 Hours to Live is a 2017 thriller about an assassin who seeks redemption after being given a second chance at life.

Director(s): Brian Smrz

Actor(s): Rutger Hauer, Ethan Hawke, Qing Xu, Paul Anderson

Genre: Thriller

  • Our Score
User Rating 3 (3 votes)
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