Monday, November 24, 2008

24: Redemption

It’s been a year and a half since we’ve seen Jack Bauer, and it’s been like four years in the TV universe of 24. A lot has happened since the last time we saw Jack. For one thing, America took its cue from David Palmer and elected a real African American president. Let’s just hope Mrs. Obama is nothing like Sherry Palmer.

This two hour movie was called 24: Redemption, but it could have easily been called Jack Hawk Down. It was essentially the first two hours of the next season of 24.

Tonight’s episode takes us to the troubled African nation of Sangala. Now don’t give Sarah Palin a hard time if she doesn’t know where that is, it’s fictional. It’s 3pm in Africa and we find Jack at a school run by his old pal Carl Benton. Jack’s spent that last year ducking a subpoena form the US government, and a guy named Frank Trammell arrives to serve it. Naturally, Jack tells him to shove it. He’s not going back. (Not that much has changed in a year and a half.)

The real trouble starts when a few of the kids head into town to play soccer without permission. Unfortunately, General Juma, a local rebel leader, is abducting and brainwashing children for his army. We first meet his right hand man, Col. Dubaka, who instructs a brainwashed child to behead a man with a machete while chanting “Kill the Cock-a-roach.” When the kids from the school are abducted, Carl gets word back to Jack and directs him to a secret box where Jack finds guns and ammo for his African Jack Sack, as well as some explosives. Jack quickly finds himself fighting off a band of rebels as the remaining kids hide in a space under the schoolhouse.

Jack picks off a whole bunch of bad guys before they finally subdue him in the brush. We’re not even 30 minutes into the first hour and Jack is being strung up and tortured. Col. Dubaka’s brother is the team leader and he gives Jack a terrible case of razor burn when he scorches his face with a red hot machete. Luckily, Carl has snuck up to the school and signals to Jack and before you can say “Dammit Chloe”, the bad guys are dead and Jack has killed Col. Dubaka’s brother with his legs. Now Jack and Carl have to get the kids to the American embassy within the hour to catch the last chopper out of the country. A coup is eminent and the US is withdrawing.

There were very few other regular characters in tonight’s special two hour movie. No CTU, no Chloe. President Noah Daniels is the most prominent recurring character. We find out that today is also the inauguration of Allison Taylor, the first female president in the 24 world. Daniels refuses to send troops to aid Sangala, even though Taylor thinks it’s a good idea. Taylor wonders if Daniels has a hidden agenda and puts her people on it.

We also meet Chris, a broker who works for a company that has ties to Sangala and a mysterious government official named Hodges. Hodges is played by Jon Voight, and we all know he’s dangerous. This is the same guy who bit Kramer on Seinfeld.

Chris is ordered by his boss to destroy some files, but instead, Chris sends them to his home computer. Chris then calls his buddy Roger, who happens to be the son of the President Elect. Chris also works with his girlfriend. Soon enough some goons show up, torture and kill Chris. Hodges then puts his sights on Roger, afraid that Roger may know too much. Things are now all set up for the next season.

Back in Africa, we meet General Juma. He’s played by Tony Todd, who you may remember as The Candy Man. (The horror movie guy, not the one that can take a rainbow and wrap it in a sigh.) He is busy preparing his attack. He does not do much besides look mean tonight, but I’m sure we’ll hear more from him next season.

However, Col. Dubaka takes a break from the coup to hunt down Jack and avenge his brother’s death. He attacks by helicopter, but Jack & Carl get the kids into the woods and undercover. Dubaka lands and his team heads into the woods. Then Jack’s favorite kid Little Willie runs into a mine field and is saved by Carl, who ends up with his foot on a mine. Knowing he is screwed, Carl stays behind and takes out the bandits, and himself, in a blaze of glory.

Jack gets the kids to the city, but Juma’s goons are everywhere, and are nice enough to dress in long, dark trench coats so Jack can spot them. As the shootout unfolds, Jack turns a corner and finds himself face to face with the “Kill the Cock-a-roach.” kid, who has a machine gun pointed at him. A teary eyed Jack manages to snap the kid out of his haze and finally gets the group to the locked gates of the embassy. On the other side is Frank Trammell, who refuses to let the kids through, unless Jack surrenders to the subpoena. Jack finally agrees and they all fly off in a chopper as the city erupts. Back in the United States, President Taylor is sworn in while Hodges looks on.

So there you have it.

This episode was a real change for 24. It was refreshing to have Jack Bauer out of the Los Angeles area, but I did miss a few things from the old format. Naturally an appearance by Chloe and Morris would have been the best, but I even missed CTU a little bit. Especially all dirty looks through the glass walls, and that signature phone ring.

After a year and a half, it was good to finally get a 24 fix. And now we are ready for the season to begin in January. Just how the hell Tony Almeida comes back from the dead is the burning question. And if they can resurrect Tony, can they bring Edgar back too?

See you in January.

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