The Movie Waffler Against The Clock: IN THE LINE OF DUTY & Five Of The Best 'Real Time' Thrillers | The Movie Waffler

Against The Clock: IN THE LINE OF DUTY & Five Of The Best 'Real Time' Thrillers

in the line of duty
In anticipation of In the Line of Duty’s January 3rd release in cinemas and on digital HD, we run down some of the most exciting real-time thrillers in movie history.

Time limits equal tension. Just consider the last time you were late to work or watched the seconds tick down during a test. The stakes are even higher in the movies when that race becomes a sprint to stop a ticking time-bomb or solve a murder. And what better way to crank the tension up even higher than to set a film’s action in real-time so we can watch the drama unfold minute after agonising minute.

Explosive new thriller In the Line of Duty takes the real-time formula and turns it up to 11 as disgraced cop Frank (Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight) must race to save the Chief of Police’s abducted daughter from a twisted criminal. Hitting the streets in his search, a possibly fatal mistake by Frank puts the victim in further jeopardy and a violent new player (Ben McKenzie, Gotham) arrives on the scene with deadly consequences…

In anticipation of In the Line of Duty’s January 3rd, 2020 release in cinemas and on digital HD, we run down the most exciting real-time thrillers in movie history.

Rope (1948)
Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock laid the groundwork for the single-shot (or what appeared to be...) real-time thriller in his 1948 classic Rope. Although seemingly comprised of one long camera take, the film contains 10 hidden edits and was a big experiment for Hitchcock and his studio Warner Bros. The film tells the story of two young students, played by John Dall and Farley Granger, who strangle their classmate and attempt to pull-off the ‘perfect crime’ as an intellectual exercise. The film’s brief 80-minute run-time plays out at a dinner party the killers are hosting, having just committed their murder. But when their former teacher (played by Vertigo’s James Stewart) arrives on the scene, his suspicions are aroused and the crime is slowly uncovered. Lauded as one of the director’s very best films, Rope is a meticulously crafted film and one of the very best examples of a one-location real-time thriller, influencing countless films over the years. 

Cash on Demand (1962)
cash on demand
Although best known for their Technicolor gothic horror yarns, Hammer Films made a variety of B-pictures including comedies and thrillers such as Cash on Demand. The film starred Hammer Horror stalwart Peter Cushing as miserly bank manager Harry Fordyce, who unwillingly becomes embroiled in a heist two-days before Christmas when charming robber Colonel Gore Hepburn (André Morell) arrives on the scene. Taking place over around 80-minutes and in just one location, Cash on Demand is a fun and tightly-plotted real-time thriller shot in black and white, with fantastic central performances from its two leads. At the end of the film, having to rely on his workers for help out of the unpleasant situation, Fordyce is changed for the better in one of the greatest re-workings of 'A Christmas Carol' ever brought to the screen. A fantastic and thrilling watch at Christmas or any other time of the year!

24 (2001-2014)
Coming out at the dawn of the current golden age of television, high-concept, big-budget series 24 put real-time action on the map and had audiences glued to the screen week after week. Led by Hollywood star Kiefer Sutherland, the ground-breaking show consisted of 24 hour-long episodes, each taking place in real time (even accounting for ad breaks!), plus an on-screen digital clock ticking down to heighten the drama. The first series followed agent Jack Bauer of the Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) as he attempts to stop an assassination plot against senator David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), only to become more intimately involved when his wife and daughter are kidnapped. Only 13 episodes were originally produced but with its instant success the writers had to quickly come up with the second half of the season. This may have led to some of the wackier choices found in the debut series including Jack’s wife Teri developing amnesia for a couple of episodes and daughter Kim being menaced by a cougar! Overcoming this early hurdle, the series went on to become one of the most exciting and acclaimed of all time, with eight seasons of high-stakes action.

Victoria (2015)
Many films have been presented as being filmed in a single unbroken take, but in most cases cinematic trickery is employed to create such an illusion. That's not the case with this gripping German thriller, which actually was filmed in one take. Laia Costa is the eponymous heroine, who finds herself caught up in Berlin's criminal underworld in the early hours of the morning. Director Sebastian Schipper and cameraman Sturla Brandth Grovlen pull off a remarkable feat of cinematic choreography to keep us on the edge of our seats throughout. The action was shot three times, with Schipper claiming the first two attempts were disastrous, but it was certainly third time lucky!

The Guilty (2018)
the guilty
From Danish director Gustav Moller, The Guilty is a breathtakingly tense single-location, real-time thriller in the vein of Rope, Phone Booth and Buried. Copenhagen police officer Asger (played by Jakob Cedergren) has recently been transferred to the emergency despatch centre following his shooting of a suspect, when he receives a mysterious call from a woman who has been abducted. With initially very little to go on and armed only with a phone, Asger begins to investigate the kidnapping from the call centre and soon uncovers a crime far bigger than he initially anticipated. Garnering wide acclaim on its initial release as well as a number of award wins and nominations, The Guilty has since been slated for a Hollywood remake starring Jake Gyllenhall. With a nerve-shredding story and a powerhouse central performance, The Guilty is not to be missed.

In the Line of Duty (2019)
in the line of duty
Buckle up for intense against-the-clock action as Aaron Eckhart stars in the latest exciting entry in the real-time thriller genre, the action-packed and explosive In the Line of Duty. The film finds disgraced cop Frank Penny (Eckhart) on a rogue mission of redemption to find the Chief of Police’s abducted daughter. Trapped in a box that’s slowly filling with water, time is running out for the innocent captive, and Frank’s chances of rescuing her are quickly ebbing away. With the girl’s chances of survival already slim, Penny makes a fatal mistake and kills the twisted abductor, eliminating their only lead as to the girl’s whereabouts. Now joined by ambitious reporter Ava (Courtney Eaton), who is live streaming the search, all hell breaks loose when the dead abductor’s brother arrives on the scene with a bloody thirst for revenge. With a commanding central performance from Eckhart and a supporting cast including Ben McKenize (Gotham, The O.C.) and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, The Jungle Book), In the Line of Duty offers a pulse-pounding race-against-time packed with plenty of surprises.

Signature Entertainment presents In the Line of Duty in cinemas and on Digital HD from 3 January 2020.