24: Redemption Review

We take a look at the TV movie return of Jack Bauer.

Advance Review: 24 fans have had a long wait, but this month, on November 23, Jack Bauer finally returns to TV, in this two-hour movie. It's been a year and a half since 24's been on the air, thanks to the writers' strike shutting down production last season. That's enough time for 24 fans to have forgotten the convoluted, twisting plot of Season 6, which started out with a shocking nuclear blast in Valenica, and devolved from there into a bizarre battle involving Jack's dad Phillip, his brother Graem, a Russian attack and a Chinese circuit board. It was a mostly lackluster season, and 24's lengthy hiatus essentially gives the show a clean slate to start from.

24: Redemption is a unique and welcome change to 24's usual airing schedule. Primarily taking place in the fictional African nation of Sangala, we meet up with a soul-searching Jack Bauer who's been traveling the world and avoiding a subpoena to go before a Senate subcommittee back in the States. The beginning of the movie features a bit of a time jump, but the majority of it still conforms to 24's real-time format (we're told that the following takes place between 3pm and 5pm). The fact that we're seeing Jack Bauer in a setting other than Los Angeles is a refreshing change of pace, since in a normal season it's practically impossible for Jack to be anywhere other than the U.S. (apart from a few side trips into Mexico over the years).

Redemption tells the story of Jack finding himself in the middle of a military coup, with a vicious warlord attempting to "recruit" kids and make them into soldiers. Jack's been working as a missionary with his old colleague Carl Benton (Robert Carlyle) and they have a number of kids under their care, who become targeted by the militia. There's some great action scenes here; the kind that 24 fans have come to expect, with Jack Bauer essentially becoming a one-man army and kicking some ass. He's pretty much all alone here -- there's no CTU, there's no comms; it's just Jack on his own, assessing the situation and taking out the enemy. It's sort of a Die Hard in Africa, just without the Bruce Willis wisecracks.

Jack Bauer, about to deliver bullets of redemption.

Interwoven with the action-filled Sangala story are a series of scenes in Washington, D.C. introducing us to a number of new characters who we'll also be seeing once Season 7 rolls around in January. Getting sworn in as President of the United States during Redemption is President-Elect Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones); we also meet her husband Henry (Colm Feore), son Roger (Eric Lively) and daughter Olivia (Sprague Grayden). And we meet a man orchestrating some very bad things; a man who Jack will most likely be facing at some point on Day 7: Jonas Hodges, played by Jon Voight.

Like many episodes of 24, Redemption has its fair share of cludgy dialogue and bland scenes (mainly taking place in D.C.), but they're well balanced by the well-done action sequences and a few emotional scenes involving Jack, allowing Kiefer Sutherland to show his acting range and let a human side of Jack Bauer surface. There's a handful of characters that we're glad we won't be seeing on a long-term basis, as they seem confined to Redemption and not Season 7. Among them are a particularly whiny kid, a UN official who's made to look like the biggest wuss ever, and an annoying Sangala embassy worker.

The true purpose of Redemption seems to be an introduction to the new characters and the situation in Sangala -- and that's not a bad thing at all. By setting up the new characters, giving us a new President, a villain, and a handful of supporting good guys and bad guys, 24: Season 7 can get right into a story involving it all. 24: Redemption whets our appetite once again for Jack Bauer's personal brand of justice -- bring on Day 7.

IGN Ratings
(out of 10, not an average)
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