21 Hours is unapologetically a testosterone action popcorn flick. An entertaining suspense roller coaster. We want to give the audience a visceral, authentic race experience so they’ll “feel the speed.” We want them to feel claustrophobically trapped inside the contained space of our hero’s rigged muscle car as if they were vicariously in his driver’s seat along for this terror ride. Just as the original Rocky caused audience members to punch the dark air in front of them, we want our theater-seat drivers slamming their feet on imaginary brakes in the dark.
Our country – the entire world – changed forever in an instant on 9/11. No longer can we sit idly by, thinking someone will come to our rescue because…maybe no one is coming – no one can save you – and you have to save yourself. We realize now that we might actually have to take action ourselves. Alone. Or even with strangers. Figuring out unconscionable circumstances on the fly while overcoming overwhelming obstacles in an instant. Worse, perhaps, might be to be stuck at home – helplessly watching our loved ones in situations no one could’ve ever been prepared for in our constantly, real-time-connected world.
While timely and relevant, this “ripped from the headlines” terrorist thriller is also universal and evergreen. 21 Hours taps into the global zeitgeist of coping with terrorists in your own homeland while holding a mirror up to the world’s fascination (if not obsession) with reality TV and incessant technological connectivity. Unashamedly patriotic but without taking any polarizing political or religious positions, 21 Hours shows the men and women of the US military in an honorable light. It’s a purely fictional story – a decidedly personal vendetta – of one family attacking the innocent civilians of another – on their own soil. It’s a road trip journey for all the citizens of the world who value their families, free will – and the open road.
Building upon the shoulders of the greats in the rich lineage of race and road films that have come before us, our goal is to conceive fresh and original stunts and sequences that will delight this rabid core audience. Screaming past the wide variety of beautiful vistas our country has to offer, 21 Hours is a picture postcard love letter to America.
We’ve also made great efforts to – and will continue to strive to – avoid stereotypical or prejudicial clichés. Not only does the script offer smart and powerful female role models, most notably the President of the United States, the Hero’s wife and mother but perhaps most significantly, the key support brain and brawn buddy is a heroic Middle Eastern female Marine fighting for America. These are not just token hotties who sit prettily on the sidelines, they are prominent, proactive, thinking modern women who dramatically affect the plot.
I have lived with this script for almost a decade and a half. It was optioned practically straight out of the printer right before 9/11 – after which it got caught in the deep freeze that locked up all terrorist scripts at that time. Freed up and back in our control, we have worked relentlessly to polish it, tighten the plot, amp up the pace and deepen the emotional stakes. I have imagined every conceivable angle, I know the characters and storylines and backstories inside and out and cannot wait to bring it out of our hearts and imaginations – up off the page to come to life on the screen.