Sci-fi films are not that common in Indian Cinema at all. (I still haven’t seen Rajnikanth’s Robot which is sitting in my DVD pile.) 24 was a really interesting film, because it used some of the conventions of sci-fi films I’m used to from the West, but added in the family and mythic elements of Indian cinema. The film stars Suriya in a triple role. This is my first Suriya film. Looking him up later, he is famous for originating the role of the cop in Singam (which Ajay Devgn remade into the Hindi Singham).
In the picture above Suriya plays the inventor dad who makes an almost steam punkesque time machine watch. It can only go backwards a maximum of 24 hours, thus the movie title. The middle character is the evil brother of the inventor — very Indian!
Then the left is the 26 year old son of the inventor, present day 2016 Mani. Nithya Menon of OK Kanmani has a brief role as Priya, wife of inventor, mother of Mani. Samantha Prabhu played the love interest for Mani and was just okay.
Suriya was impressive. He is a talented actor because he really, really pulled off three separate characters with the three roles. And there are scenes of him being one character and pretending to be another which is hard to do, and he totally nailed it.
There’s a whole plot with baby Mani being entrusted to a young girl who raises him on her own as a single mother. I’m thinking there’s a whole Mahabharata story I’m missing that it ties to that would be obvious to the Tamil audience. (Asked a friend and the foster mother is supposed to be Yashoda who raised Krishna.) There’s also elements of karma and fate as the time travel machine watch and a key find their way to Mani.
What was great about the film is that when Mani gets the time travel machine watch to work (he’s a watch repair man, fortuitously!), he first uses it to romance the girl. He’s almost like a young superhero geeking out over his new found super powers. Those scenes were really fun. He can also freeze time, and uses that to take a selfie with Dhoni in the middle of a cricket match. Watching him explore the powers of the time travel machine, explains what it can do, and how the time travel is going to work (and its limits) to the audience in a clever way.
I really love time travel movies, especially when they are used in romantic films. Outlander is hot right now, but who can forget Christopher Reeve in Somewhere In Time? He had no time machine, just hypnosis and the power of his love!
There have been several adaptations of H. G. Wells novel The Time Machine, notably the 2002 The Time Machine directed by Simon Wells, great-grandson of the author and starring Guy Pearce.
In The Time Machine, Wells or his avatar finds love with a primitive girl as civilization has collapsed in the distant future. Yeah, there’s none of that kind of nonsense in 24, thankfully. It’s a story of personal revenge in one family. But while Suriya was great as the villain, hell bent to get the time machine watch to try to cure himself — it was never explained why he hated his inventor twin so much. I wish a little less time had been spent on the romance plot towards the end, and some time had been given to the back story of the twin brothers. Of course, the filmmakers have left it open to a prequel or a sequel.
I thought the CGi and special effects were good, and the music was by A.R. Rahman. Not his best score ever, and I’m not running out to download the songs, but good. I would hesitate to bring very young children to the film as one character gets his hand cut off. Overall, an enjoyable action film, especially for the performance of Suriya in the three roles. Four stars out of five.
24 is out in Tamil, and a dubbed Telugu version. My theater had both.