24 is back with a more nuanced look at modern warfare | Bleader

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

24 is back with a more nuanced look at modern warfare

Posted By on 05.06.14 at 03:55 PM

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A quick look at the temperatures recorded and predicted for this week makes it hard to tell which season we're in: fall, spring, or summer. A quick look at the movie premiere schedule, however, indicates we are already in blockbuster season. So it makes sense that Fox would roll out 24: Live Another Day, the latest “worst day ever” in the life of Jack Bauer, a CIA agent-cum-fugitive. The new miniseries (at 12 episodes, it's half the length of a regular season) has all the blustering action and great cinematography of its previous iterations, as well as a (possibly) controversial take on a hot-button issue.

The two-hour premiere, which aired on Monday, opens with shots of buildings' exteriors, including a mosque's, lest we forget where this all began. Then we're in the CIA's catacombs—er, station unit—where the new Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) chief, Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt), is overseeing the capture of a "valuable target." That target, who wordlessly dispatches and evades his pursuers, is revealed to be Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). Jack allows himself to be captured, and then "questioned" by Navarro and soon-to-be-former Agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), before he escapes and finally says his first line (about three-quarters of the way into the episode), a gruff "Take me to her, now."

The "her" turns out to be Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), former CTU analyst and (historically) Jack's only real friend. She's been charged with treason for leaking confidential documents, and is being held by a "special activities"—an even nicer euphemism for torture than "enhanced interrogation"—agent. Jack soon dispatches of the agent, shoots Chloe in the heart—with adrenaline!—and the two escape the subterranean compound with a little help from Jack's Serbian friend and his little friend, a grenade launcher.

This all happens in the first hour because, subtitle or none, this is still 24: action is guaranteed; plot less so. The second half of the premiere fleshes out the main storyline, which involves a conspiracy, drones, and of course, hackers and hired guns; it also introduces William Devane as President Heller (who is something like the twelfth president to make it to this show's Oval Office), and our possible Big Bad, Michelle Fairley (that's right, Cat Stark) as Margot. We also see the return of Jack's former love (and the president's daughter), Audrey Boudreau née Raines (Kim Raver), who is now married to the president's chief of staff, Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan), a character who must have already kicked off a few betting pools on the odds of his duplicity (and the extent of it).

Longtime fans of the show will be happy to see that Jack is very much back for the proverbial kicking of ass and taking of names, though there hasn't yet been a single utterance of "Don't fight it." But old and new viewers should be engrossed by the show's treatment of drone attacks—not only do we see protestors decrying the use of drones, but we also see how it can go wrong (there is a friendly fire incident that quickly turns into an international incident). In the past, 24 was criticized for what was perceived as tacit approval of torture as a reliable interrogation method, so this more nuanced look at modern warfare ushers in a new day indeed.

24: Live Another Day, Fox, 10 PM, Mondays

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