Saturday, April 27, 2013

TV on DVD Review: 24 - Redemption

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action and real time suspense
Cons: Slow to start; predictable
The Bottom Line:
Just getting started
Not as good as full season
Fans will still enjoy

Jack Bauer Tries to Save the Children

Thanks in large part to the writer's strike a year ago (And don't even get me started on that.  Again.), we did not get a season of TV's thriller 24 last year.  Of course, after the dismal sixth season, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  The show has been missed by its many fans, however.  To whet our appetites for season seven and to lay the foundation, Fox prepared 24: Redemption.

In the last year, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has seen the world.  No, he's not on vacation; he's running from a subpoena calling him to testify before Congress about his use of torture over the years.

Most recently, he's landed in the African country of Sengala where he's helping a friend named Carl Benton (Robert Carlyle) with his school for orphaned boys.  When the subpoena catches up with him, Jack plans to move on.  But before he can, the rebels make a play for the boys, planning to force them into becoming soldiers in their bid to over throw the government.

Meanwhile, back in the States, the first female President, Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones), is about to be sworn in.  While she clashes with outgoing President Daniels (Powers Boothe) over the situation in Sengala, her son is approached by a friend wanting help with a sticky situation at his job as a stock broker.

What does that have to do with Jack's situation?  And can Jack get the boys to safety?

Any fan of 24 (and I count myself among them) will enjoy this movie.  Seeing Jack Bauer back in action in all his split screen goodness is always satisfying.  The movie has the suspense and action to make anyone pay attention.  And, while the action may not be completely believable, that's a product of the genre and nothing unique to this show.

I think the biggest question going into the movie was would it keep the real time format of the show.  After a brief prologue, it does indeed.  Kiefer even tells us "Events occur in real time," something he hasn't done since season 1.

And, while the counting clock adds to the tension, I couldn't help but feel a little let down by the movie.

I know much of it is my expectations.  There is no way they can possibly do in two hours (okay, 88 minutes) what they do over 24 hours.  Let me explain.

The first episode of the new season is often slow as it lets us in on the character's lives between seasons and begins setting things up.  Here, that took over a quarter of the film.  Yes, we needed the character development.  But it still felt like things got off to a slow start.

The show is famous for its twists, not all of which I have appreciated.  Here, there was only one.  Other then that, things played out pretty much how I expected them to play out.

Since this movie is really a prequel for season seven, it left some things open.  In fact, it left the things I was most interested in dangling big time.  Obviously, they couldn't quite wrap everything up in two hours.  But as a stand alone, that was a tad disappointing.

Not disappointing is this DVD release.  Coming two days after the movie aired on TV, it's loaded with extras.  Not that we've come to expect any less from 24.  We've got a commentary track, behind the scenes documentary as well as one on the real situations that inspired the plot of the film, 10 minutes of cut scenes added back into the movie, and the first sixteen minutes of the seventh season's first episode.

While 24: Redemption wasn't the best the franchise has to offer, it does give me hope that the writers are back on track and the upcoming seventh season will be better than season six was.

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