Plot: The world is on the brink of nuclear war. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) must find Cheng Zhi (Tzi Ma) in order to prove to the Chinese president (David Yip) that the U.S. did not give the orders to attack and destroy a Chinese aircraft carrier. However, while Jack searches for Cheng, President Heller (William Devane) must prepare the country and the U.S. Asian fleet for war. Meanwhile, Audrey Boudreau (Kim Raver) is being held hostage by a sniper and it’s up to Kate (Yvonne Strahovski) to save her. Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) resurfaces and volunteers to aid Jack in finding and taking out Cheng Zhi.
24: Live Another Day ended pretty much the way it began — loud, dramatic, messy and in the end, fun.
If there’s one constant this show has maintained throughout its limited run, is that when focused on action, the emotional exploits and the nearly unbelievable heroics of Jack Bauer, this is a very entertaining show. Kiefer Sutherland is so locked in as Bauer, he knows how to hit all the right emotional notes at the precise time. He knows when to amp up the testosterone-fueled “Jack Smash” rage where he becomes the lethal killing machine of all-time. Then, when you least expect it, he pulls out the emotional side of Jack Bauer — whether it be his reactions to the death of a loved one or his, in tonight’s finale, his final interaction with his only friend in the world, Chloe. Seeing Jack Bauer start to cry is like watching your dad shed a tear — it’s one of those stop everything you’re doing moments.
Yet, when the show takes its focus off Jack Bauer, it’s an utter D-Level production that is barely worth television time. How so you may ask? Well, let’s examine how one of the major characters, who will remain nameless for spoilers sake, dies from getting shot in the stomach. Now, this writer does not have a medical degree but does a shot to the stomach kill you within 20 seconds? Maybe this is reality and every other film and TV series has exaggerated how long someone could last with a bullet in their stomach. (But probably not.) Also, the way this character dies, is laughable. It’s like they shut their eyes real tight they’re playing hide and seek with their five-year-old. This wasn’t the first “laugh out loud because it’s so bad” moment in the series and its these moments that really hurt 24: Live Another Day.
Then there’s William Devane’s commander-in-chief, one of the most inconsistent and problematic characters in the series. At times Heller is portrayed as this whip smart, no-nonsense leader of the free world. When this happens, Devane really knocks it out of the park. But then, the series does this thing where they make Heller respond to major crisis with a, swaggering, “ain’t no thing” ring-a-ding-ding attitude. It’s very weird. Oh, and of course, we have to bring up his Alzheimer’s again at the end of the episode for a really, really depressing monologue that really just brings the finale to an awkward and grinding halt. We won’t even go into how they mishandled the Kate Morgan storyline, that’s a whole separate column for another day (no pun intended).
Yet, no matter how bad this series got, it always had Sutherland to absolve its sins. It’s his performance, from both an acting and physical standpoint, that made this series worth a damn. He possesses such a charismatic quality about him that you want to tune into him and see how he’ll save the day. It’s the mark of someone, like we stated earlier, that is locked into his character. With that being said, 24: Live Another Day, is a series that fans of the original series can do a quick binge watch of (it’s only 12 episodes long) and it’s a good starting point for someone who has never watched the show to get their feet wet with.
The series did end in a less than definitive manner with Jack being flown to Moscow to pay for his crimes against Mother Russia. Could the series make a return next year or somewhere down the road? It definitely could and from a creative standpoint, with a solid script and possibly a shorter episode run, a new Jack Bauer installment could be a lot of fun. Of course, those are a lot ifs and maybes. According to the gang at 24Spoilers.com, the ratings have actually been fairly positive for the series, particularly in the DVR and non-live run audience, so there is an audience for a return. However, if there isn’t a return, the ending, while not positive (nor the one this writer predicted), still gives a sense of closure for good ol’ JB.
In short: 24: Live Another Day wasn’t pretty, but it was still a fun series to watch.
Bill Bodkin is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. He can be read weekly on Trailer Tuesday and Singles Party, weekly reviews on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU and regular contributions throughout the week with reviews and interviews. His goal is to write 500 stories this year. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English and currently works in the world of political polling. He’s the reason there’s so much wrestling on the site and is beyond excited to be a Dad of a baby girl this coming December. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom