Die Hard 24/7

25 Nov

In a post-9/11 world, where conspiracy stories are trendy and anti-terrorism efforts are all anyone can talk about, action shows need to bring something unique to the table in order to be successful. So Fox’s 24, which aired from 2001-2006, takes advantage of the viewers desire for a liveness in television by presenting the narrative in real-time. This allows the show to make use of many formal aspects to create suspense and anxiety. The most noticeable method the show takes is the ticking clock that appears in the lower third of the frame at strategically tense moments.

I had never seen 24 before this week and, after getting hooked on the real-time aspect, was surprised to hear that they are planning a film version of 24. After a rocky start and many rejected scripts (including a proposed crossover between 24 and the Die Hard franchise titled Die Hard 24/7, in which Jack Bauer teams up with Bruce Willis’s John McClane to battle conspiracy), production is expected to begin in Summer 2013.

As expected, the movie will not be in real-time. Even the most die hard fans (excuse the terrible pun) probably couldn’t sit through a 24-hour long movie. This means that 24 will lose one of its most distinctive quirks. Kiefer Sutherland said in an interview (in response to the proposed Die Hard/24 crossover) that the goal for the 24 film is to create a stand alone film franchise that would not rely on any other stories.

Yet the inherent existence of genre creates a form of reliance between stories. The concept of genre implies a set of expectations that the viewer has for the narrative direction and formal methods used in the story. The fast editing, car chases, and overtly expressive orchestral score in 24 would not be successful if the viewer hadn’t already be conditioned to their presence through generations of action stories like Die Hard.

Plus, if you take away the real-time illusion in 24, how different from other action shows or movies would it really be? Since it makes use of so many action narrative tropes, such as extremely fast editing, dark gun chases, and rather un-realistic dialogue, would it really be that different from Die Hard?

One Response to “Die Hard 24/7”

  1. Kirsten November 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    I feel the same way about action movies as I do about the action/crime/drama TV genre–that the stories are all one-dimensional variations on a single theme. It doesn’t matter if our action hero is an NYPD cop or a CTU operative, if the terrorists are German or Russian. The action genre relies heavily on style to distinguish between franchises–which is why style and franchise-specific tropes weigh so heavily into their success. I think Mission Impossible still exists solely because of its theme song. When we recount action movie (and often show) plots, you can basically get the gist with just place + good guy + bad guy. The style is truly excessive; the driving force of the story is the context into which the characters are placed, rather than the interactions between characters. Do Jack Bauer, John McClane, James Bond, Ethan Hunt, Martin Riggs…really develop at all throughout the episodes of their TV or film series? I am skeptical.

    It is the dependence on style that allowed Keanu Reeves to split up with Sandra Bullock between Speed movies, and John McClane to totally forget about his wife between Die Hards. Interpersonal relationships are just chump change; as long as there are terrorists to battle, the action genre will be alive and well.

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