Monday, May 5, 2014

REVIEW: '24: Live Another Day' - Jack Reemerges in London to Save the Day in 'Day 9: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM' & 'Day 9: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM'

FOX's 24: Live Another Day - Episode 9.01 "Day 9: 11:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M" & Episode 9.02 "Day 9: 12:00 P.M. - 1:00 P.M."

Four years ago, Jack Bauer was a fugitive from justice. Now an exile, he nevertheless will risk his life and freedom to avert yet another global disaster - this time in London.

It feels so good to have Jack Bauer back on screen again. He's such an inherently interesting character to follow. He has a set moral code that he sticks to no matter. This is probably the first time in the history of the show where he is just working for himself - not under the guise of the President or the concept of the United States of America. In his home country's eyes, he is a criminal that needs to be taken into custody and brought to justice. To him, everything he's ever done in life has been justifiable. He simply had to do what had to be done. That belief has pushed him away from any kind of normal life. He would love to be with his family - Kim's had another baby in his four years away. And yet, he can't ever have a normal life because of his moral code. He's beyond redemption at this point. He's trying to stop the assassination attempt on President Heller's life because it is the right thing to do in his mind. He's not going about it with any false idealisms of becoming accepted back home again - or even getting back with Audrey. He's accepted what his life is right now. So that leaves him hard and emotionless. It's astonishing how long he sits in silence and stoicism in the first hour.

Jack Bauer always has a plan and it's just fun watching as he extracts Chloe from the CIA headquarters. And yet, the reveal that he was there to break Chloe out would have played so much better if the audience didn't know Chloe was being held down there. I mean, why did we even need that scene with the doctor injecting painful stuff into her? Just to see what that special unit does? To see how bad Chloe's life is? It was unnecessary and took away the surprise of what Jack was after. And now, the CIA is fully on Jack's radar. That was a risk he had to take in order to force Chloe into helping him. Kate really is the only one in the agency who has any clue of what's going on. Everyone else there is just being slow to let her be the smart one in the room. That's just odd and really doesn't make me care about any of them.

Of course, it wouldn't be a season of 24 if it didn't have coinciding narratives - with one being about this season's political players. I'll admit I was quite surprised by how much that corner of the universe was dominated by Mark. He's an active player in these two episodes. He's the one making decisions. He's aware of Jack also being in town. James and Audrey really are only asked to play nice with their British hosts. And the development that James Heller is slowly losing his mind is just such an easy route to go down. He's old but he's in power. That must mean he's developing dementia. I mean, that's the general concern we would have with a President of his age, right? But it's just such a cheap and lazy thing to do. I can already see the wheels turning on his condition severely worsening over the course of this day - which is just as ridiculous as Jack kicking heroine in a day.

And then, there's the actual terrorists this season. We actually don't see a ton of them. The first hour is largely about Jack getting Chloe out of the CIA but it also ends with the drone taking out the unit in Afghanistan. But that was just a test run apparently. Something to cause the President and British Prime Minister a headache and something to discuss while the terrorists are actually plotting their true assassination attempt. The fact that it fits into what they are there to meet on is just too coincidental - and much too painfully telegraphed during the premiere. And yet, Jack and Chloe are quick to get their lead on the man with the device that can take control of the drones. Their pursuit of him very much felt like classic 24. Jack got to be a badass and intimidated some gangsters; a couple of great action set pieces with guns shooting bullets everywhere; and a case of misinformation leading to the bad guy getting away. But the bad guy's girlfriend turns out to be Margot's daughter who's really there to collect the device and kill him. That's a cheap thrill twist that I saw coming once he was talking about Jack being there because Margot sent him. It's a moment that 24 has done a ton of. And yet, it leaves me wanting to watch more.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Day 9: 11:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M." was written by Evan Katz & Manny Coto and directed by Jon Cassar.
  • "Day 9: 12:00 P.M. - 1:00 P.M." was written by Robert Cochran & David Fury and directed by Jon Cassar.
  • I believe this is the first time an episode of 24 hasn't started with the title and "The following takes place between this time and this time. Events occur in real time." It's six minutes into the premiere before we get that reminder. 
  • I'm also surprised that the title card still only reads 24. I get why but this season is specifically being billed as 24: Live Another Day.
  • Damnit! Why the hell is Colin Salmon playing an American? The show's in London. Why cast a British actor as an American and force him into trying to fake an accent?
  • So, who's gonna be the mole this year? Erik, Steve, Jordan or Mark are my guesses right now. Adrian would seem too obvious to make him be in league with Margot and her family.
  • I'm a tad surprised by how much Audrey has returned to be her same old self. The last time we saw her she was heavily traumatized. And there's no apparent residual feelings from that time in her life. She's the president's daughter now - so I guess she has to carry herself with esteem.
  • I loved Jack's reaction to learning that Chloe stole and hot-wired a car.
  • The drone pilot is played by John Boyega who also was just cast in Star Wars: Episode VII. So we'll definitely be seeing a lot more of him.