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Dwight H. Little
Weak derivative thriller in the 24 mould but with a very weak version of Sutherland in Arquette
Department of Homeland Security agent Mike Bookman is on his way to meet his wife and son at an American football game in Washington when he gets divert to a bomb planted in a crowded bar in Washington. The bomb disposal experts cannot even get close to diffusing it and, with everyone evacuated, it detonates. Almost instantly another call comes in that this attack was just a show of strength and that the real bomb is the Washington stadium. It will collapse the whole stadium on the 65000 people inside if anyone is evacuated and a high profile terrorist prisoner is not released. With the pressure already on him, Bookman gets another very personal motivator.
From the very start this 24 wannabe seems happy to do the basics on the cheap but by learning from that show in regards what works. Hence we get the ticking clock situation, the constantly moving cameras, the Muslim terrorists, torture and the power of technology. So far so genre but ultimately it is weak in key areas that does undercut the film as a whole. The plot is generic but relies too heavily on weak devices and twists to keep it moving even 24 struggles to do this but it does have a whole season to sustain. The use of Bookman's family and the many twists just reduce tension rather than increase it. Unlike some I did like the use of DV because it presents the illusion of action and realism when used with restraint, however other than this there is not a lot that Gyllenhaal's direction has to recommend it for.
The biggest weakness is the casting of David Arquette. He is far too weak to convince and I cannot believe that he was the first choice for this role. He is a light comedy actor and not suited or the Sutherland role. To be honest Jones would have been better in the main role as he has more presence and urgency about him in his turn, which is not brilliant but is definitely effective within the demands of the film. The main reason I checked this out was the presence of Bassett, because I was curious to see what she was up to recently not only do I think she is talented but she is stunning even as she turns 50 this year. Here all she does is a few days worth of work, remote from the action and has more "reaction" shots than dialogue scenes. 24's Caro Rota turns up briefly (and uncredited) as a terrorist but other than that the cast are mostly TVM standard.
Time Bomb is not great, even by genre standards but it is just about clichéd enough to allow the undemanding viewer to watch, safe in the knowledge that thinking or caring is not required. The script is weak, the twists weak and the whole delivery is derivative. It might just about have been fun if it had had a stronger lead actor but, as it is, Arquette is so badly cast that he doesn't even convince once.
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