Wednesday, 28 May 2014

24: Live Another Day - the longest ever

Bouncing back: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) comes in from the wilderness to save the world again with the help of Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) in 24: Live Another Day.

Bouncing back: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) comes in from the wilderness to save the world again with the help of Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) in 24: Live Another Day.

Four years on, Jack Bauer shows he hasn’t lost the touch.

WELCOME back, Jack Bauer. You know, you were my late father’s favourite modern-day TV character. I think he liked the way you dedicated yourself to and sacrificed so much for the protection of institutions and people who didn’t always give a damn that you did all that for them.

People might call it naive, we preferred to think of it as principled and selfless. Sometimes I think he saw a bit of himself in you.

One thing my dad didn’t like was the way you were left out in the cold at the end of eight years of fighting the good fight, painted in a bad light, hunted by the people you used to work for.

When we’d finished watching the series’ final episode, he said something to the effect of “Poor man. Such ungrateful people.”

But we agreed that sometimes, someone has to do the right thing even when it is unpopular (and unsanctioned), and gets you neck-deep in crap, because that’s the real hallmark of integrity. (In fact, if you look up “integrity” in the dictionary ... no, wait, you can’t; because Jack is probably using the book to beat Habib Marwan’s location out of a known associate.)

It’s a shame Dad is no longer with us, because I’m certain he would get a big kick out of the now-airing 24: Live Another Day, where Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland, who hasn’t missed a step) is once again putting it all on the line for a bunch of (mostly) ingrates.

There was supposed to be a movie after Season Eight, but that never happened. So now we’ve got this 12-episode “limited event television series”, with events still occurring in real time, only with (presumably) some leaps forward during the day.

Four episodes in, and 24: LAD has been a gripping ride so far.

This time the action is set in London four years after Season Eight. The “event” opens with Jack getting caught by the CIA.

As always, our intrepid counter-terrorist agent has a play in ... er, play. His capture turns out to be a ruse just so he can get into the CIA London office and spring another familiar face, Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), from confinement.

The larger story here is that Margot Al-Harazi (Game Of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley), the widow of a terrorist who was killed in a drone strike, is plotting to deliver some bitterly cold revenge in the form of hijacked drones which she intends to use on civilian targets and on visiting US President James Heller (William Devane).

Margot is so driven by revenge that she is willing to exploit her daughter Simone (Emily Berrington) in any way necessary to get what she wants.

Even to the extent of having her married daughter sleep with a genius hacker to make sure he completes his drone-hijacking doohickey; and chiselling off a finger or two from Simone when her husband Naveed (Sacha Dhawan) develops an attack of conscience.

Adding to the cauldron of complications so typical of 24 is Chloe’s revelation that her husband and son were killed (she was the intended target) because she helped Jack disappear.

And just so we know that the Free World is still in safe hands even without Jack Bauer on the job, we have CIA agent Kate Morgan (Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski) as the Only Person Smart Enough to figure out what Jack is up to.

But, since you simply cannot be a good 24 character without being professionally hamstrung in some way, Kate is also a disgraced agent about to be shipped home – her husband sold secrets to the Chinese and she failed to notice.

From Benjamin Bratt’s dodgy CIA station chief to Tate Donovan’s overeager Chief of Staff, Michael Wincott’s squinty-eyed “infoterrorist” to good old Kim Raver as the president’s daughter (who, y’know, suffered so much because of Jack but can still be counted on to take his side), the supporting cast is as rich a group as any in the best seasons of the series so far (those would be four, seven and eight, IMHO).

No doubt, by the time the clock counts up to 23:59:59, a good number of these people will have received their respective comeuppance, viewers would have been treated to more explosive action, and (hopefully) some good things will happen to our hero. Such as his daughter not showing up at all. (That would be good for the viewer too.)

The writers have been doing a bang-up job of propelling the story along thus far. With a limited 12 episodes to cover one of Jack’s typically long workdays, they have made every scene count – less time also equals less filler.

What I’ve really liked is the way they have kept Jack close to the top of his game, always doing his job (even after it’s been taken away) with ruthless efficiency and dogged determination, always with a plan (whether premeditated or improvised), buying those precious few seconds so that it all adds up ... to 24.

24: Live Another Day airs every Tuesday at 10pm on AXN (Astro Ch 701).

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Entertainment , TV , On The Air , 24 , Live Another Day , Jack Bauer , Kiefer Sutherland , AXN


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