It’s good to have the ticking clock back. It’s been three years since last we saw Jack Bauer in 24: Live Another Day.
24 is one of the great TV brands of the last decade (or so) but is rebooted in 24: Legacy with a new action hero, Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), under previous producers, Manny Coto, Evan Katz, Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer, Kiefer Sutherland and director Stephen Hopkins.
In this “new” age, the central character is now African-American, there are drones, and the enemy is at various times from the Middle East, Eastern Europe or within the USA itself. The hallmarks of 24 are essentially here in the opening episode: action, jeopardy, betrayal, duplicitous characters, hope.
Setting up the new world may have come at the expense of a thrilling centrepiece, however. 24 was always dependable for opening with a bang. This time there’s no Hollywood spectacle to kick things off: explosions, jet airliners crashing, Presidents assassinated…. and I kept waiting for it.
Instead the story, kicking off at 12:00 -1:00pm, finds war hero Eric Carter as the target of a gang loyal to a deposed terrorist. Carter and his pal Ben Grimes (Charlie Hofheimer) are the only 2 surviving members of a team of 6 who assassinated Bin-Khalid (sound familiar?), but the gang is in hot pursuit of a missing strongbox, killing anyone who stands in their way.
The former head of CTU, Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), having just received her Congressional Medal, is also wife to Senator John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) who is on an election path to the White House. Rebecca’s spousal duties are distracted when she learns Bin-Khalid’s men are taking down her men, and it isn’t long before she is back at CTU commandeering satellites and CCTV.
But while Rebecca brings communications analyst Andy (Dan Bucatinsky) into the loop, her replacement Keith (Teddy Sears) is on the outer along with suspicious analyst Mariana (Coral Peña) -where is Chloe when you need her?
Meanwhile Eric tries to hide wife Nicole (Anna Diop) in safe keeping with her ex, who just happens to be his brother, and there is a subplot involving some teens and a possible high school incident. Not really sure why.
Hawkins makes a fair fist of his action scenes, standard as they are, but clearly has some Legacy to live up to. The dialogue slips into gung-ho stereotypes that keep the series from matching smarter peers such as Homeland.
– “Running CTU is like a drug. Hard to come down from.”
– “Right now, I’m the only one I can trust.”
– “He misses it. He needs it. The life he says he wants with me will never be enough for him.”
You get the picture.
Thankfully the split-screen action is intact but there are still far-fetched scenes that unrealistically match the clock, such as getting from one location to another in 4 minutes screentime. I’m still not expecting anyone to need time for the bathroom, sleep or a cup of coffee.
But hey it’s 24. I’m happy to check my brain at the door for a charismatic star and a rollercoaster ride.
That said if you are rebooting such an established brand then it better be a kick-arse opening. This isn’t that.
1:00 – 2:00pm might be?
24: Legacy airs 8:30pm tonight on TEN.