The 24th Day Movie Review
The topics: homosexuality, AIDS, kidnapping, and murder, not necessarily in that order. The rather contrived situation: Tom (Scott Speedman) has discovered that he is HIV positive and wants to know if Dan (James Marsden), his one-night stand from five years ago, gave him the disease. He stalks Dan, lures him back to his apartment (Dan doesn't remember him from five years ago), knocks him on the head, ties him to a chair, takes a blood sample, and tells him that if the test comes back positive, he'll kill him. Let the debate begin.
At first, the conversation is simply Dan complaining that kidnapping and murder are wrong and Tom responding that he doesn't care. Soon, though, there's a long give and take on the topic of veracity. How many men his Dan really been with? Does he always practice safe sex? Did he use a condom on that night five years ago? How can he be sure if doesn't remember that night? Has he really been tested and found to be positive?
And what about Tom? Is he gay or just "bi-curious?" Is he so tormented by his sexuality that he's simply lashing out? How many people has he been with? After a couple of escape attempts -- Dan tackles Tom during a bathroom break and also tries to set the apartment on fire to attract attention -- we get a little more information: Tom's wife died in a car accident 24 days ago after learning that she was HIV positive. Was it suicide after finding out her husband had infected her?
But wait a minute, says Dan. Maybe she gave the disease to you. How can you know I'm the guilty one here? The battle of wits and the search for the truth goes along right up until the film's unpredictable ending.
For Marsden and Speedman, The 24th Day is a chance to step to the center of the stage. Marsden is best know for acting behind sunglasses in the X-Men series, while Speedman toiled for years as one of Felicity's boyfriends on the show of the same name. Here, both have an opportunity (and an obligation) to shine, and they turn in great performances, in Marsden's case with both hands literally tied behind his back.