Tuesday, April 27, 2010

24- Season 8.19: Dirty Laundry

This week 24 goes on the air in the air, with Jack being chased across the skies of Manhattan by the Air Force helicopters. Chloe continues to plead with Jack on the com but Jack will not respond. Jack suddenly banks hard and lands on a nearby roof equipped with a helipad.

As the pursuing choppers call in his location, Jack races down a fire escape and blends into the crowded streets just before New York’s Finest arrive on the scene. Pretty impressive since even on a crowded street you’d tend to stand out in a funky leather jacket and satchel.

Meanwhile, Madame President prepares to make a statement about the peace agreement. Nathan implores her to reconsider and he is successful. She realizes the moral implications of her actions and decides to pull out of the peace agreement and pursue the Russians through discreet means. Ethan happily heads off to prepare a statement for her. I guess that’s all taken care of.

Back at CTU, Chloe orchestrates the hunt for Jack Bauer, who has found his way into an electronics store. Jack buys a bunch of cell phones and leaves the store without even taking the chargers. The biggest break Jack gets is that he does not go to RadioShack to get the phones, because if he did, they would have asked him for his address and zip code and that would have lead CTU right to him. (Why the heck does The Shack need to know that anyway?)

Jack’s first call on one of his new cell phones is to Chloe. He explains that he needs to get to Dana Walsh. Chloe begs Jack to turn himself in, but eventually he convinces her to help him. (On the down-low, of course.) She tells Jack the President’s plan for Denny, but after she’s had a chance to think about it she calls the Fresh Prince and decides to go back on her word and set a trap for Jack. Cole wonders if they are on the wrong side of this issue, but obeys Chloe and heads off to set a trap for Jack at a CTU operated laundry facility. Poor Chloe, this sucks for her.

Jack ditches the first phone and uses another to call an old pal of his, Jim. Jim is played by Michael Madsen, or Mr. Blonde to all of you Reservoir Dogs fans out there. He’s been in a million other movies but you probably remember him from Kill Bill or maybe Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home. We first meet Jim in a dank base of operations that looks like a boiler room wired with the latest high tech gadgets. That along with his burnt neck definitely gives him a sort of Freddy Krueger vibe. Jack contacts him and calls in an old favor and then proceeds to instruct Jim to furnish him with an arsenal.

Back at the UN, we find Madame President back with her new BFF, Charles Milhous Logan. No sooner has she made her decision to pull out of the peace talks when Logan presents an alternative. He suggests that they treat Dana Walsh as a war criminal and have her detained and interrogated by an independent firm. (That he happens to have on stand-by.) This way she will stay out of the public eye while they get the information out of her. And once they do, she will have lost all validity in the public eye, so if she talks, it’s no big deal. Madame President quickly reads between the lines and realizes he is suggesting that they torture her to get the info. However, Logan’s grip over Madame President is now so powerful that it rivals Grima Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings. She actually agrees to this plan.

You remember Wormtongue, right? He’s the creepy dude who kept whispering poisonous words to the King of Rohan in order to weaken the kingdom because he secretly worked for the evil wizard Saruman. Okay, sorry, didn’t mean go nerd on you there, but that’s exactly what’s happening here.

Meanwhile, a shady dude named Bledsoe has arrived to pick up Dana, who has lost her Dr. Lecter vibe and instead freaks out at the prospect of being taken away by these guys. She knows she’s all done if she goes with them, but Chloe hands her over. And Denny is right to be freaking out, because Bledsoe fully intends to kill her after they get the information.

So Chloe feeds Jack a bogus address that leads him to a trap where the CTU agents have to navigate a maze of industrial washing machines and carts of dirty laundry in order to catch him. Chloe gives the order to use non-lethal force. Cole laughs. Yeah, right, that will work. That’s like painting a ceiling with no drop cloth and trying not to get paint on the carpet.

Jack arrives at the laundry mat and immediately takes out one of the agents. The other agents navigate the laundry maze in hopes of capturing Jack, but instead they find their colleague hanging on a bundle of dirty shirts and sheets. Jack quickly takes another agent hostage and forces the Fresh Prince to tie them up. Then he takes Cole aside and convinces him to join him on his quest for truth, justice and the American Way. He even gives Cole a gun as a show of faith. Cole naturally agrees to join him and the two leave, staging that Jack has taken him hostage.

But how did Jack know about the trap? Simple, he knows Chloe better than she knows herself and predicted she would not only turn on him out of a sense of duty, but she would also send Cole on the mission. So either Jack Bauer is brilliant or he’s a psychic… you decide.

Back at the UN, Nathan resigns in light of the President’s poor choices… and because he’s miffed that he’s no longer the BFF.

Meanwhile, Denny is brought to a secret location by Bledsoe where she is strapped down for some sort of water boarding procedure involving a ladle. I am not sure if they are torturing her or basting her. It reminded me of when someone would put Bugs Bunny in a pot of water over a fire and he would think it was a warm bath, but really they were making rabbit stew.

Next week, Soups on! The Fresh Prince and Denny are reunited… and it doesn’t feel so good.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kick-Ass kicked... well you know.

I have anxiously been waiting to see the movie Kick-Ass ever since I saw the first trailer some time ago. My anticipation went through the roof when I saw the red-band trailer that featured some of Hit Girl’s “colorful” dialog.

Well, I finally saw it and the good news is that I really liked it. The bad news, it’s a little uneven and may throw casual viewers for a bit of a loop.

I knew going in that this one of this movie’s biggest strengths, the amazing trailer, would also be one of its biggest enemies. The trailer would certainly draw a lot of people in. What’s not to love? A seemingly hilarious take on a superhero movie with a foul- mouthed, eleven year old girl who’s a killing machine and Superbad’s McLovin’ in a cape and mask.

Sure, I would be easy to please. I love comic books, sci-fi, horror and action movies and I’m a connoisseur of the superhero genre. But what about everyday people off the street. The kind that can’t tell you the names of all the different Robins in the Batman mythos. Or the difference between the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin in the Spiderman world.

Without going into too much detail, Kick-Ass is the story of a regular, high school kid who decides to dress up like a super hero and fight crime. There are no super powers here. It’s pretty much like if you or I decided to do the same thing. We’d get weird looks from people and we’d most likely get our asses kicked. Kick-Ass takes his lumps, but thanks to the internet, becomes a huge sensation, spurring others on to similar “super heroics”. Eventually Kick-Ass crosses paths the Big Daddy and Hit Girl, two costumed adventurers with a slightly more serious motivation and a much larger arsenal. Kick-Ass also teams up with another costumed kid who calls himself Red Mist. (McLovin’) All of these characters get mixed up in a situation with the mob that escalates from fun and games to real danger very quickly.

Kick-Ass has plenty of laughs, but it’s not a non-stop, lighthearted comedy like the trailer leads you to believe. This movie has a slight edge. So while there are plenty of laughs and some fantastic elements that require some suspension of belief, there is also plenty of violence. And it’s not typical superhero movie violence. You know, like how the bad guys on the A Team would always get up and brush themselves off after their truck flipped. Here, when someone gets hit in the mouth, it hurts and they bleed. And people die. So while the violence in this movie has a fantastic element to it, it is a little more brutal than some folks might expect. It’s kind of like expecting to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but instead seeing Kill Bill.

As I said, I was fine with this. I liked that a movie that dealt with “real world” superheroes had violence with somewhat real consequences. I also thought the movie had plenty of laughs. You may love or hate Nicholas Cage, but his portrayal of Big Daddy is one of the highlights of the movie. And fans of the old Batman TV show will certainly appreciate his performance.

As you have probably heard, it’s Hit Girl that really steals this move. This is a star making performance Chloe Moretz on par with Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, Natalie Portman in The Professional of Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire. I predict Hit Girl will be the “It” costume this year, just like The Joker was when Dark Knight came out.

Kick-Ass himself is a good character, but part of the unevenness that I alluded to is that with all of the characters in this movie, he’s not consistently the focus of the story or the action. It’s a minor complaint, but an observation worth making. I hope a sequel is in the works. There is a lot of potential for these characters in this world.

Personally, I loved Kick-Ass. If you want a fun movie with plenty of action, some good laughs and a bit of an edge, I highly recommend it.

(By the way, the people who held the mantle of Robin were: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Damian Wayne, Tim Drake and Carrie Kelly.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

24- Season 8.18: Corpse Bride

9 am

The year is 24 A.R.
That’s A.R., for After Renee. We are heading into the home stretch of the season and the series of 24. What else could we possible ask for than an angry Jack Bauer going rogue? But as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.

We pick up at a quiet moment between Jack & Renee in the morgue. It’s quiet because Jack is in shock and Renee is toast. For a second I was hoping for a creepy Last Dance with Mary Jane moment, but the opportunity quickly passes when the ER staff comes to cart Renee off. And they are nice enough to furnish Jack with some fresh clothes. I wonder if that’s covered under President Taylor’s healthcare plan, and if so, what’s to co-pay on that snazzy shirt?

Speaking of healthcare, how about that Ethan? After almost dying of a cardiac arrest about an hour or two ago, he is not only back on his feet, but he’s dressed and ready for work. How does he do it? He must use Airborne or something. However, he almost has another heart attack when he hears that Madame President has allowed Charles Milhous Logan to intervene with the Russians without disclosing the nature of the leverage he has on them. No kidding Ethan, but remember that you recommended that she speak with him in the first place. Knucklehead. I think the both of you suffer from massive Brain-Farts more than any other ailment.

Meanwhile Chloe, the new head of CTU, reluctantly tells Jack about Agent Lohan’s suspicions of the Russian mob and the fact that Sergei is being arraigned nearby. Sergei, of course, is our Russian friend from earlier this season. You know… the guy who shot his own son. Well, apparently family has become a little more important to him since he was arrested, because he ends up giving Jack information in exchange for protection for his family. (Seems to me they’d be pretty safe with him behind bars.) All he can tell him is that the Russian government is behind the events of the day and that Denny is the one with all the information. She works for the Russians and that’s how she got into CTU in the first place. (I know, still ridiculous, but let’s just roll with it.)

Chloe sets up an interrogation session for Jack with Dana Lecter (I just decide that’s her new nickname, based on the cell they keep her in and the constant evil stare she holds on the surveillance cameras.) Wary that Jack might do something rash, Chloe asks Cole to monitor the session, just in case Jack gets out of hand. Jack wastes no time and almost immediately starts to beat information out of Dana Lecter. Chloe turns to Cole, but the Fresh Prince says to let Jack keep going.

Well DUH! What did you expect him to do? If your ex-fiancĂ©, who just broke your heart and betrayed you and your country, was getting the snot kicked out of them, what would you do? LET ‘ER RIP! That’s what you would do. After a few cuts & bruises Dana predictably plays the immunity card one more time. She will spill the beans about all the players in the Russian government if she gets her deal back. Jack, knowing Madame President like he does, assumes it’s a slam dunk. It’s like asking the Silly Rabbit if he wants some Trix. Of course he does. But what Jack does not realize is that “Tricky Dick” Logan is up to his old trix and has blackmailed the Russians back to the peace table.

Once Charles Milhous Logan learns that Jack Bauer is talking to Dr. Lecter, he realizes he has to shut him up, so he meets with Madame Presidents and ends up telling her about the Russian’s involvement. Naturally, she is appalled, but eventually seduced by Logan to keep her mouth shut in the interest of the peace agreement and the greater good. Ethan protests, but his heart is just not in it. (Get it? Ethan, Heart?)

So Madame President heads to CTU to personally tell Jack to stand down. Before she meets with Jack she finally comes face-to-face with Chloe. It’s amazing that these two have never actually shared a scene together before. It’s kind of like Bill Murray and Chevy Chase in Caddyshack. It wasn’t until they were in the middle of filming the movie that they realized the two did not have a scene together, so the writers whipped one up and let the two improv their way to one of the most memorable moments in the movie. Unfortunately, our girls don’t down any cannonballs, but Chloe’s visible uneasiness is amusing.

When Madame President informs Jack of her decision to cover up the Russian’s involvement, he is shocked and mortified. He says he wants justice, but she counters by saying she wants peace. Jack reminds her that the Russians can’t be trusted. He should save his breath. This is the woman who put her eggs in Logan’s basket.

She orders Jack back to McGuire Air Force base for debriefing. I wondered if that is named after slugger Mark McGuire, and if so, what would happen if Jack Bauer got a hold of some of those steroids. Dear God.

But Jack doesn’t need steroids. He’s got three things on his side… justice, love and wrath. Oh, and he also got the Jack Sack back and his Starsky & Hutch peanut butter brown leather jacket. So he has that going for him too. Which is nice.

So as Jack is lead out, he snags a gun from his guard and hijacks the helicopter. Chloe races outside and orders the agents to hold their fire. Then she radios Jack and tells him to land immediately. When he feeds her static, she gives the order to have the air force engage and force Jack to land.

Fasten your seatbelts, like Sarah Palin in a fly leather jacket, Jack Bauer has gone rouge.

Next week, it all hits the fan… or rather the chopper blades, as Jack has a dog fight over Manhattan and continues to pursue Renee’s killer. And we head into the final six hours of the day.

See you next week.

Oh yeah… I saw Kick Ass tonight as well. I will post a review later this week. But I will tell you right now, expect to see a ton of Kick Ass and Hit Girl costumes this Halloween.

What did you think? Post a comment below or drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

24- Season 8.17 – Going Out With a Bang

8 am

Damn you 24. Damn you straight to hell. You had to take her, didn’t you? Damn you.
So much for my happy ending. But as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.

This week picks up with a distraught Jack Bauer, who feels he has failed both Hassan and Madame President. As Hassan’s body is removed from the scene, so is the leader of the bad guys, who is wounded, but should make it. But one of the EMTs is really a Russian spy and he injects the terrorist with some poison when the Fresh Prince is not looking. Agent Lohan sees the spy leaving and recognizes him, but she can’t place the face. But the Russian remembers her from their days in the mob. And why wouldn’t he? She’s freaking hot.

So Jack & Renee head home to Jack’s Love Shack while Cole heads back to CTU. Meanwhile, one of Hassan’s underlings suggests that Hassan’s wife be appointed the new leader of their country. I just knew that was gonna happen. So while one leader is appointed, another is fired. In light of all the failures and compromises, Bubba Hastings is relieved of his duties. In light of the day’s events, that seems like a good business decision. However, until a replacement can be appointed, they appoint Chloe as the temporary head of CTU. Now Chloe has made some brilliant and bold moves throughout the day, but she’s been working for at least 17 hours straight AND she has obvious personality issues… you know, she’s a little nuts. You’re telling me there is no night/day shift leader at CTU that relieves Bubba, like Eckley on CSI?

Meanwhile, back at Mr. Bauer’s place, Renee and Jack finally seal the deal. All it took was a few minutes alone and Renee letting her hair down. You know Jack was thinking “If you are impressed with what I can do in 24 hours, wait until you see what I can do in 24 minutes, baby.”

Little does our happy couple realize that they have been followed by the Russian spy and he is watching them from a sniper nest in an apartment across the street. Sure, he could have taken the shot at anytime, but wouldn’t you watch the “show” too?

Back at CTU, just as Bubba hands the reigns over to Chloe, the Fresh Prince arrives with the terrorist. As Bubba drives off, the bad guy suddenly flat lines. Right off the bat, Chloe has been thrown into the fire. But she steps up and orders an immediate toxicology on the body, to see if he was assassinated. Either she is smarter than I gave her credit for, or she also watches too much CSI… because they do that kind of thing all the time.

At the same time, another patient has made an amazing recovery. Ethan, just minutes off a heart attack, looks great. His hair isn’t even messed up. He’s ready to get back to work. Madame President is worried because the Russian delegate has been threatening to pull out of the peace talks, despite the fact that they have been salvaged by Hassan’s wife. Without the Russians, the agreement won’t work. So Ethan suggests they call in a person with strong ties to the Russians… Ex-President Charles Milhous Logan. Logan has offered to help.

Although reluctant, Madame President agrees. We all roll our eyes. Trusting Logan is like taking diet tips from the Burger King. Tossing better judgment to the wind, Madame President allows Logan to help, even though he won’t disclose what his exact plan is. Oh yeah, this should work out juuuust fine.

Back in Jack’s sack, the bed, not the bag, the happy couple snuggles after a passionate roll in the hay. It’s so romantic; Renee observes the scars on Jack’s body while Jack observes the scars on Renee’s psyche. Then Jack gets up to fetch a pail of water… oh wait, that’s Jack & Jill. Jack gets up to get something to drink when Chloe calls to tell him about the murder of the terrorist. Renee answers the phone and remembers the suspicious EMT. As she is telling Chloe about her suspicions of the Russian mob, she is picked off by the sniper. She collapses in a bloody bed sheet.

Jack freaks out, grabs her and rushes down to the lobby with Agent Lohan dying in his arms. He manages to get them into a cab and they Tokyo Drift their way to the nearest hospital. Jack, covered in his lover’s blood, waits helplessly while they try to save Renee. Chloe calls him and tells him about the Russian mob connection, but he has to hang up when the doctor comes out.

It’s bad news. They couldn’t save her.

Once again, someone has loved Jack Bauer and now they are dead. This is why Batman and Spiderman have secret identities. And also why Batman only hooks up with chicks in the Bat Cave. No windows.

And once again, one of our favorite characters on 24 has been killed off. (Unless she just faked her death, like Tony Almeida. One can always hope…) I understand the dramatic impact that the death of a major character has on a TV show, by why does 24 always kill the interesting characters and leave us with the lame ones. (Hello, Dana & Arlo.)

So with six hours to go in the series, Jack Bauer will now be out for justice. I pity the fools who are responsible for Renee’s death. This should be fun.

Rest in Peace, Agent Lohan. You were the best thing to happen to 24 in two seasons, and you will be missed.

Let’s have a moment of silence for Renee Walker.

See you next week.

What did you think? Post a comment below or drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com.

24- Season 8.15 & 16 – Cole and Dana Break Up and Hassan Gets a Sore Throat

6 & 7 am

Okay, I finally caught last week’s two part 24 on DVR. Here is a quick recap and some thoughts. It was a two episode event that featured Denny in full fledged mole mode. Now that we know she’s a mole, she uses her evil mole face all the time.

Jack has rescued Hassan Chop from the strike team, but Hassan decides to put the lives of New York in front of his own, and he willingly turns himself over to the bad guys. But first he knocks Jack out, because Jack would never let him do that.

An operation takes place to ambush the bad guy driving away with Hassan Chop, but the car makes an unexpected turn right before the trap. Jack chases them, but the car drives off the roof. But Hassan is not in the car, he’s been switched. Tarin, however, is really dead this time. Jack grabs his phone, knowing he had to be tipped off.

They trace some calls and figure out Denny the mole. She tries to shoot her way out of CTU, but the Fresh Prince captures her. Bubba stops him from causing her any harm. She insists to speak with Jack. He chokes her a little bit and she asks for immunity. As it’s pointed out before, requesting immunity from Madame President is like asking Ronald McDonald for French Fries. The more the merrier.

Jack & Agent Lohan head to the location of where Hassan is being tried on the internet, racing to get their before he is executed. They sneak in and then shoot their way to the back room, where they find the message has been pre-recorded. And Hassan has been chopped. His throat was slashed before they even got there.

Everybody is sad, except the bad guys. Okay, that’s it in a nutshell.

What did you think? Post a comment below or drop me a line at jack@backinjack.com.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

24 Delay

Hi Folks,

Sorry to pull a Renee Walker and "go dark" on you for a few days, especially after a big two hour week of 24.

I was travelling and have not had a chance to watch the show yet. I'll bang out some comments after I catch up.