Jack Bauer is back. For lots of 24 fans, that will be enough. Others, without giving Jack and 24: Redemption a chance, will toss it away as a typical, tired 24 story. Even though 24 hasn’t been on FOX for nearly two years, after perusing some reviews of Redemption, it’s clear that a great many critics are still bitter over the poor outing that was 24’s season 6. That’s fine – 24 should have to re-earn the trust of the audience. But, what can you expect out of a two-hour TV movie like 24: Redemption? I can’t imagine it’s much more that the 24 team has actually delivered with Redemption, a solid, workman-like tale of Jack Bauer in the fictional African nation of Sangala. Jack Bauer is Jack Bauer in 24: Redemption – heroic, sacrificial, bad ass. If that isn’t enticement enough, you probably shouldn’t be watching 24 in the first place.
24: Redemption picks up three or so years after the end of season 6. Jack has left the US to go find himself, make sense of his life. He’s a rolling stone, and he doesn’t ever want to go back home. He’s currently living at a school for boys in Sangala, a fake African country (the movie was filmed entirely in South Africa). An old friend of Jack’s, named Carl Benton (played by Robert Carlyle), started the school and Jack helps out in the upkeep. We soon learn that Jack has been dodging a subpoena for almost a year, and once Carl finds out, Jack makes plans to leave Sangala and keep moving. Meanwhile, a rebel Sangalese army is recruiting young boys from the area in preparation for a military coup. Jack and Carl have to save the boys at their school and get them to the US embassy before it’s too late.
There is also a good portion of time spent in Washington, D.C. on the new president’s election day. Mostly, the D.C. part of Redemption is meant to introduce us to characters integral to season 7 of 24, because nothing that happens in the capitol effects Jack Bauer’s Sangalese plight. Which is fine – Jon Voight’s Jonas Hodges is going to border on the edge of over-the-top as season 7’s major baddie. His few scenes were drenched in sleaze.
But, to Jack. There are gunfights and machete impalings and torture and mine explosions. Jack yells and dispenses advice and feels sorry for himself. As a stand-alone movie, 24: Redemption isn’t anything to write home about. It feels like a richly photographed episode of 24. The writers didn’t really change their storytelling pace either. The objective, for Jack, is to get from Point A to Point B with kids in tow, and it gets no more complicated than that. The setting brings a lot to the table, and the child actors are impressive, natural and believable. Robert Carlyle is largely wasted, a very good actor who deserved more to do. He’s a worthy partner to Bauer, and it would have been fun to see them work more as a team.
As an introduction to season 7, however, 24: Redemption works wonderfully. For fans, it’s a nice way to ease back into the series and get re-acquainted with Jack. President Taylor is set up as a “good 24 president,” in a similar vein as the Palmer brothers, though the same likely cannot be said for some of her immediate family members.
24: Redemption isn’t the cinematic triumph of a 24 story that some were hoping for. After about a half hour, I found myself with tempered expectations. The film would not have worked on the big screen, though it would have been right at home in the middle of a good 24 season. However, I now find myself very excited for season 7, which was the whole point of 24: Redemption in the first place. In that way, I think we can deem it a success.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)