In a movie, audiences quickly get fed up with this. Why? Instead of being limited by the main character’s perspective, we’re looking over their shoulder. If we see something, we expect them to see it too, and we expect them to react quickly, not sit around thinking about it. As a result, audiences demand that movies move a lot faster than books.
It’s no accident that the book “Six Days of the Condor” became a movie called Three Days of the Condor. “Seven Days in May”, on the other hand, was a best-seller, so they couldn’t to change the title, but director John Frankenheimer points out in the DVD commentary that if you actually go through the movie and count the days, there are only six. Movies compress.
Even when movies take place over a long period of time, they have to feel like they’re taking place over a short period of time. Every episode of “Law and Order” took place over the course of two years, but most non-legal-minded viewers probably assumed that the events took place over the course of a week, and the show did nothing to disabuse that notion.
If the hero of a book suffers from indecision that keeps them from reacting quickly, we can accept that, because we’re in their head with them, and we can get all the conflict we crave by reading about their inner struggle. But we cannot forgive any excessive delay in our movie heroes. We cannot see or feel their inner struggle, so it has no interest to us. If they are disconnected from the actions around them, we get angry. If they are failing to see what we see and react as we would want them to react, we give up on them.