’24 Hours With Gaspar’ Review: A Murder-Mystery About Finding Love In A Dystopian Place


Every decade in the history of film has reserved a spot for stories about vengeful men. They were either avenging their girlfriend or their family, and the filmmakers used these loaded emotions to depict all kinds of carnage and gore. Obviously, a certain section of the audience enjoyed it and probably tried to emulate the actions of the characters, thereby leading to a state of panic amongst members of society with some semblance of sanity. Every time this trend ebbed, though, we got movies that commented on the futility of revenge. For example, Christopher Nolan talked about how corrosive vengeance can be for the soul in Memento and The Prestige. James Wan did the same in Death Sentence. Despite the satisfying conclusion, Kim Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil made viewers question Soo-hyun’s journey into abject darkness. Denis Villeneuve showed the crumbling of a suburban family in Prisoners. Even Bollywood delved into this topic with Sriram Raghavan’s Badlapur. And then, of course, there are the John Wick films, which show how a trigger pulled in anger can have disastrous consequences. 24 Hours with Gaspar squarely falls into this category, but how good is it? Let’s find out.

Based on Sabda Armandio’s 2017 novel, Yosep Anggi Noen’s 24 Hours with Gaspar follows the titular character as he travels through a dystopian Indonesia in search of clues to find his long-lost childhood friend, Kirana. His investigation brings him to the dead body of an informant, and as he tries to find out whether he died by suicide or was killed by someone who is trying to obfuscate the truth, he is attacked by the authorities. This causes him to black out. He is rescued by his friend, Agnes, who brings him to the underground fight club that she runs (which is inspired by Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club). The resident doctor checks Gaspar and tells him that the equipment that has kept his heart (which is on the right side of his body) functional is fried. Since they are living in a world where healthcare doesn’t even exist, Gaspar has 24 hours to live. And he wants to use his final moments to find out what Wan Ali did to Kirana and exact some good old justice. However, since he knows there are people who would want to get even with Wan Ali, he sets out to bring them all together for the final mission of his life.

Mohammad Irfan Ramli’s writing in 24 Hours with Gaspar is quite scattershot. Several ideas are introduced here and there, which rarely lead to anything very substantial. For example, there is an undercurrent of “eating the rich” to talk about the class divide that has been caused by a plague. That’s somehow linked to the practice of organ harvesting. It’s juxtaposed with a story about Indra, Shri Krishna, and a black box. And that is connected to child trafficking. Even if it makes some sense, it fails to have a lot of bearing on the journeys of Agnes, Kik, Njet, Yadi, and Bu Tati. All of these characters have such a variety of motivations to act against Wan Ali that linking it to Gaspar’s cliche journey feels reductive. I guess Ramli is aware of that, and that’s why he makes them repeat their endgame over and over again so that the audience knows why they are aiding Gaspar. But that leads to another problem. With the exception of Kik, nobody really seems to care about the desperation of Gaspar’s mission. They just seem to tag along in the hopes that they’ll get something in the end that will allow them to improve their lifestyle, thereby making the theme of hope the only prominent aspect of the film.

24 Hours with Gaspar is all about finding hope in a dystopian place. It’s essentially like trying to reach the end of a rainbow to find the treasure box while purposefully ignoring the possibility that the treasure box isn’t real because, as long as the pursuit is on, the treasure box exists. Ramli and Noen wonder, via Gaspar, if this little bubble of ignorance that one creates to deal with the times is what leads to wanton violence. The titular character explicitly states that good people are swayed by the lies they tell themselves, and when they start believing in a lie, they justify all the means they employ to get the desired result. That brings up the question of whether or not a desperate good person is a bad person. In addition to that, if a lawless world has blurred the lines between goodness and badness, should a good person not care about being good? This is potent stuff, and Noen uses the slow burn method to tackle it, but that clashes with the ticking time bomb aspect of the film, thereby harming its commentary as well as its sense of urgency. I’m sure the pacing is intentional because I totally felt every second of the movie’s 90-minute-long running time.

24 Hours with Gaspar is a good-looking film, though. Noen, along with cinematographer Gay Hian Teoh, editor Ahmad Fesdi Anggoro, composer Ricky Lionardi, the production design team, the sound design team, and the visual effects team, create a world that feels lived-in and serves as a warning sign towards where humanity is heading. The stunt work at the tail end of the film is quite amazing. The props that are used look decent. All the flashback scenes have a sense of sweetness that makes the present-day narrative feel harsh and grating. And, of course, all of these elements are elevated by the performances of the cast. Reza Rahadian is like a mix of Abe Applebaum from The Kid Detective (because he is a self-proclaimed detective) and Ryan Gosling from Blade Runner 2049. His jaded and bumbling nature is perfect for this kind of story. Shenina Cinnamon’s screen presence is electrifying. Dewi Irawan is the MVP of the film. Her story breaks and her disdain for her son injects some much-needed levity into the gloomy atmosphere. The same can be said about Sal Priadi, who is hilarious in a pathetic way. Laura Basuki and Kristo Immanuel are great. Iswadi Pratama is fantastic, but he needed some more meat on his bones in terms of the writing, as it simply paints him as a despicable and greedy figure. Ali Fikry, Shofia Shireen, and Alleyra Fakhira are excellent.

24 Hours with Gaspar is a decent film. I just think the use of its central gimmick is flawed. If death is around the corner, then the desperation needs to be palpable, or things need to be slowed down so that the aforementioned victim of death gets to milk the last few minutes of their life. Doing both causes the narrative to come apart at the seams, and the final product ends up feeling hollow. So, while I appreciate the concepts that are thrown around, the technical wizardry used to create a dystopian hellscape, and the performances extracted by Yosep Anggi Noen, I will forget about it in the next 24 hours. Who knows? Maybe that’s the whole point of the film, and Noen wants to say that a story with hollow motivations will always be forgotten instead of being inspirational. If that’s the case, then well done, Noen and team. Do I recommend giving it a watch? Yes, absolutely, because even if it fails to make you think about the theme of vengeance, it’ll probably make you ask your leaders what they are doing to make the world a habitable place for you and your children.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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