Plot: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has resurfaced in London, England after years of being on the run after being labeled a terrorist by his own government. There’s a terrorist plot aimed at assassinating President Heller (William Devane), who is in the midst of negotiating a new treaty with the British about using one of their bases to deploy drones. And wouldn’t you know, the terrorists have found a way to control those drones. Of course, the assassination of POTUS would lead to all out world war, which is exactly what these terrorists want. In order to save the world once a agin, Jack must evade the CIA’s pursuit and team up with his old pal Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) to do so.
On the surface, bringing back a television series that had been dead for four years back as a special mini-series event is a bad idea. Are we really that devoid of fresh ideas? Do we really care about these characters anymore? Is there even a new and creative story we can tell here?
Let’s face it 24 had become a bit of a parody of itself by the end of its run. Jack Bauer became this over-the-top scream and death machine who seemed to only say, “WHERE’S THE BOMB?” or “DAMN IT!” in between shooting people and rendering them dead with his fists of fury.
Yet, for once, the time off did a series well. We’ve had Jack Bauer and that ever-present clock off our screens long enough to actually find it fresh and exciting again. 24: Live Another Day is, for now, a small sampling of Jack Bauer, with deadly focus on the mission of saving the world for our viewing enjoyment. And it works tremendously.
Live Another Day’s greatest strength lies within its cast. Surrounding series star Kiefer Sutherland and series regular Mary Lynn Rajskub are a who’s who of excellent supporting actors including: The Wire’s Gbenga Akinnagbe, Tate Donovan, Michael Wincott (Sir Guy from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII), Stephen Fry, Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), Benjamin Bratt and none other than Mrs. Stark herself, Michelle Fairley, who will be this series’ “big bad.” All of these performers in their limited appearances, delivered. One can only hope that the talent here is given some great moments to really chew some scenery, particularly Fairley who we know can utterly dominate a series.
Yet, despite this wealth of talent, the supporting actor who really hit it out of the park was series semi-regular William Devane. The series takes a huge risk with his character by making him a President with the beginning of Alzheimer’s Disease, which is getting worse by the day. Devane plays this role heartbreakingly well — he’s stoic and brave in public, but by his own admission is utterly frightened. Devane is given some really great moments particularly a mock Parliament speech he gives in front of his Chief of State (Donovan); whose job it is to unmercifully grill the President to test to see if he can withstand the pressure due to his illness. In it Devane delivers a killer speech but makes a small, but fatal error, and is ripped to shreds for it. Watching the POTUS walk away quietly in shame of his illness is an utter gut punch and completely unexpected for a show that pushes action and intrigue all the time. It’ll be extremely interesting to see this arc goes from here.
Kiefer Sutherland plays Jack Bauer the way he’s always played him — a total bad ass with layers of emotional scar tissue hidden beneath his actual scar tissue. He wasn’t overly loquacious in this episode but there were a few classic Bauerisms AKA barking out commands and threats. From a story perspective, we’re going to see some sort of resolution between Bauer, the president and his daughter (whom he has history with), but let’s hope that doesn’t come off too sappy because the pace of the series is just right and to bog it down in sentiment and sap would totally derail it.
The action on Live Another Day is as white knuckle as you remember it. It’s a nice combination of cat-and-mouse combined with blunt force trauma. The shoot-outs and chase sequences were executed as if they were out of a Bourne movie, which is a refreshing break from the senseless runaway murder train of stabbings on The Following which we endured for most of 2014 before 24 returned.
24: Live Another Day is an exciting installment of television that is accessible to fans of the series and the uninitiated. The premiere does a nice job of giving you some quick and to the point ‘catch-up’ lines that really bring where you need to be. You don’t need to know the history of this series in order to appreciate what’s going on right now.
This is an action series at its finest — suspense, thrills, lots of gun play and chases yet rooted in an ever-developing plot. Definitely jump on this runaway train of series, because it’s going to be a hell of a ride.