REVIEW: 24: Live Another Day (Sky1)

Jack’s back! Is the debut of his new season worth restarting the clock?

Like most people back in those post-9/11 days of the noughties, I instantly grooved to the real-time espionage series 24 which made spy work seem so gosh-darn exciting. But, somewhere in the middle, I promptly tuned-out amid numerous double-crosses, terrorist takeovers, and wanton nuclear destruction. It was all becoming a bit ridiculous, not to mention tedious. That said, I still appreciated those early shows and the character of Jack Bauer, so with the news of a new series I decided to watch the “final” batch on Netflix. Lo and behold, it made me a reinvigorated fan. It was a better supposed send-off than many long-running series have produced, making me anticipate the twelve-episode 24: Live Another Day with baited breath. Luckily, this is a much better solution than the proposed theatrical release and, even with an abbreviated run, this is definitely the medium Kiefer Sutherland’s morally-grey fugitive should stay in.

Ah, yes, fugitive. The former CTU (Counter-Terrorism Unit) agent was last seen on the run from the powers that be, and has now resurfaced in London for reasons unknown. Agent Kate Morgan (Dexter‘s Yvonne Strahovski) also believes Bauer was apprehended by his own free will and has ulterior motives. The local CTU branch headed by Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) reason that he may be planning an assassination attempt on President James Heller (William Devane), but naturally they’re wrong! He’s here to rescue friend and fellow former agent Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) before escaping in daring fashion. Now, he’s going to stop the assassins by any means necessary…

Because 24‘s machinations are best enjoyed fresh, that’s all I’ll say about the plot, but its naturally filled with intrigue, current political pressure points, and more shady individuals than you can count. I already feel like nobody can be trusted and there’s nary a moment to catch your breath as the story barrels ahead in blockbuster fashion. This one is hitting the ground running, and though this show has never been credible in the slightest, the set-pieces so far are tense and thrilling. And this is just the first two-hours!

Fox and Sky1’s decision to show the first two episodes back-to-back was a smart one and it certainly made the debut of Live Another Day feel like an event. Regular director Jon Cassar is absolutely in his element here, using the show’s trademark handheld photography and split-screens to satisfying effect. This is still the universe Fox put on hold four years ago and nothings feels out-of-place. It is a durable formula that continues to pay-off provided the scripting is up to snuff.

Cassar and the writers have also assembled a fine cast around the typically stoic Sutherland, who is still an authoritative presence as Bauer whether taking down pursuers or charging toward his goal. Bratt and Strahovski are fine additions, but you’ll also spot the brilliant and underrated Michael Wincott (The Crow, Alien Resurrection) as an associate of Chloe’s, Attack the Block‘s John Boyega as a framed soldier, and, in a genius pick that seems like wish-fulfillment, Stephen Fry as our Prime Minister. Let’s hope some other recognisable faces pop-up between the spent shell-casings and drone warfare. Everything’s about drones now, isn’t it?

24: Live Another Day is exactly what you’d expect while still being superior to my expectations. The writing is tight, the direction suspenseful, and the absurdities are kept to a bare minimum (there’s no Kim to get into retarded scenarios this time). Detractors probably won’t be swayed but this was made for the faithful and it’s tough to imagine fans being disappointed with the way this new season has started. Long may the clock continue to tick…

Dave James

Editor-in-Chief at Film freak, music minion, professional procrastinator, podcaster, video-maker, all around talented git.

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