24 Hours to Live has a great premise that’s sure to make you want to see the movie. However, its director, Brian Smrz, wishes you didn’t know what it is about.
Spoiler warning for 24 Hours to Live, although this spoiler is only the spoiler that the film’s distributors agreed to show in the trailers and marketing for the film.
Ethan Hawke plays Travis, a hit man lured out of his hiatus for a high paying job. The job goes south and Travis dies. That’s the beginning of the movie.
The rest of the movie is what happens when Travis is brought back to life, but only for 24 hours.
“Personally, I still wish they wouldn’t have given it away,” Smrz said in a phone interview. “That’s what they want for marketing obviously and that’s what they use, but the film is better if you don’t know that. Then all of a sudden you’re surprised and it keeps you going.”
Smrz has a point. If you went to see an Ethan Hawke movie and he died 20 minutes in, that would be a surprise.
“If it was up to me, you wouldn’t know that he dies,” Smrz said. “So then when he gets killed you’d be surprised. To me that would make a better film.”
One lucky audience did get to see the film with no knowledge of its plot, or its title. They proved Smrz’s point.
“We actually did one test audience with that and I asked them all, we had 250 people, they didn’t know he was going to die,” Smrz said. “I said, ‘Would you have wanted to know that he was going to die before you saw the film?” It was unanimous, 100% no, of course you wouldn’t want to know that before you saw the film.”
At this point, even the title 24 Hours to Live is a spoiler. Had Smrz gotten his way they would have renamed the film too.
“Obviously you’d have to change the title,” Smrz said. “The problem is I feel like because you know the title and you know what’s going to happen, you’re waiting. So it doesn’t happen until a half hour in or 25 minutes in, so you’re like, ‘When’s this guy going to die?’ You’re waiting for that moment.”
The good news is once you reach that moment, you’ve still got an hour of Ethan Hawke back from the dead and kicking ass to look forward to. Read our review here.
24 Hours to Live is in theaters and VOD December 1.