Wednesday, 26 November 2008

TV Review - 24: Redemption

Jack’s back. Again. This time he’s only giving us two hours of his life in this uneven and largely underwhelming and unsatisfying TV movie.

First of all, I’m a big 24 fan. I’ve stuck with the show through the hugely entertaining first three seasons and the increasingly lackluster later seasons. Season six was the show’s nadir and it was evident at the end of that season that a shake up of the 24 format was needed. 24: Redemption is the bridge between season six and seven and also serves as a dry run for a big screen version of 24. Does it renew the franchise? Or is it the same old 24?

The problem I had with this movie was that it was lacking in the ambition and outright insanity that 24 is capable of. Most of the 24 staples were present (torture? Check! Traitors in the government? Check! Terrorists/freedom fighters? Check! Jack kills someone using only his legs? Check!) but some were strangely absent. The main absentee was a sense of urgency. There was a time limit set but there was no suspense, mainly because as an audience we know that Jack ends up back in the USA for season seven. None of the supporting characters were presented as anything other than expendable stock characters; the old army friend, the cowardly weasel, the officious bureaucrat, the kid sidekick. The main fault of this 24 outing was that it was predictable and that’s something 24 never is (for better or worse). There were no wild plot twists, no sudden changes in allegiance, and no real threats to Jack Bauer. I never once thought that the guerrillas Jack fought against were capable of stopping or killing him.

Complaints aside, the performances in this film were solid. Kiefer Sutherland gave his usual soft but deadly performance as Jack Bauer and at one point threatened to burst into tears so he managed to wheel out some emotional range. Powers Boothe appeared as a cynical world weary version of his scheming President character from season six. Powers gives a good performance and I hope he’ll make an appearance in the new season. Robert Carlyle did well with what he was given, his role was pretty slight and undemanding given his talents and he didn’t really have a lot to do other than look concerned and put on an Irish accent.

The action sequences still suffered from 24 becoming a live action version of Time Crisis. Jack stands behind cover, Jack leaves cover, kills a terrorist with one shot. Jack goes behind cover again, throws some explosives or shoots a barrel that causes several terrorists to blow up. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s fun, but it’s like watching someone in a shooting gallery because you know that Jack’s targets are never going to hit him in return.

The problem with 24:Redemption is that it really doesn’t work as a stand alone movie. There are government conspiracy subplots that set up the seventh season and anyone without an advanced degree in 24 history would probably feel out of their depth with the rest of the film. The movie works quite well as a pilot episode for the seventh season but it doesn’t end on a traditional 24 cliff hanger that would usually make watching the seventh season compulsory. 24:Redemption fails as a movie as it isn’t satisfactory in isolation and as a part of the series it’s merely two humdrum episodes nailed together.


The Kevolution said...

I still haven't moved beyond Season 1, but thanks for the heads up.

I bet they didn't use this as the theme song either...

Aaron said...

Seasons two and three are simply the best seasons of 24 and fantastic television. I heartily recommend them. Unfortunately the following seasons succumbed to the law of diminishing returns and declined in quality.

Zoso said...

Totally missed this, so huzzah! for the recap. Not sure I'll bother with this series, watched all the others, but like you say recent ones have been distinctly "meh". Might catch the DVDs if everyone raves.

Aaron said...

I think Sky will probably repeat this movie before screening the new season in January. If you're really desperate to see it then the DVD is released next week. But you'd be mad to pay for it.