’24: Live Another Day’ Review: ’11:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.’ / ’12:00 p.m. — 1:00 p.m.’
Jack’s back! Four years after ’24′ concluded, Jack Bauer has returned with ‘24: Live Another Day,’ a limited event series that tells the next chapter in the ever-insane saga of America’s greatest (and most brutal) defender. After the events of season eight’s series finale, Jack was labelled terrorist and went on the run, leaving his old life (and his few surviving allies and family members) behind. It was a bummer of an ending for a guy who fought and bled to keep his nation safe, but Jack has always had a knack for resurrection.
With the action moving to London, does the new series capture the visceral, real-time excitement of vintage ’24′? Read on for a recap of everything you need to know about the ’24: Live Another Day’ two part premiere, ’11:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.’ and ’12:00 p.m. — 1:00 p.m.’
Armed CIA agents in plain clothes make their way through a London Market. In the CIA’s London station, the head of operations, Steven Navarro, oversees their operation. The President of the United States is in the city and they’re tracking a high value suspect. They survey an abandoned building full of vagrants and locate their target … and then they strike. But they’re too late — the target is already on the move and he takes them down one-by-one and we see that he’s none other than Jack Bauer. Jack flees the scene but is easily captured by a support team on the nearby river.
Meanwhile, President James Heller meets with his advisors to discuss the upcoming treaty signing that will allow them to keep a vital military base open in the Middle East. Heller is no fan of drones, but realizes that they need the base and the drones it offers to keep the peace. Heller confuses Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt while referencing history. His chief of staff, Mark Boudreau, corrects him, but has to take a call from Navarro. Mark is informed of Jack’s capture and he insists that he immediately be moved to enhanced interrogation in case he is part of a plot that means that President harm.
Back at the CIA office, Navarro talks with Agent Kate Morgan, who is about to be transferred back to the United States. She wonders why Jack took such a poor escape route when he could have easily gotten away. She thinks he’s up to something, but Navarro won’t listen — there’s a reason why she’s being sent away.
At a nearby United States Air Force Base, drone pilot Chris Tanner arrives late is chastised over video communication by Major Shepherd, whose military convoy has been waiting for their drone escort. Shepherd confiscates Tanner’s weekend passes over their video chat and he’s not very happy about it.
Back at the CIA station Navarro plans to interrogate Jack before the “special team” shows up and does “God knows what to him.” As Jack is led to the interrogation room, Kate asks a fellow agent named Eric to let her see the tip that led to his capture. Eric refuses. He doesn’t trust her.
Eric rats out Kate to Navarror, but he turns the tables on him, saying that he could learn a lot from Kate. Eric reveals that her husband sold secrets to the Chinese right under her nose, proving that she’s not a good agent or trustworthy. Meanwhile, Kate recruits an office techie named Gordon to bring her the tip that led to Jack’s capture. They both realize that it was intentionally planted to look like a police tip.
Navarror begins interrogating Jack and warns him that he’ll be handed over for enhanced interrogation if he doesn’t talk. He promises to protect him and help others remember his accomplishments in addition to his transgressions, but Jack doesn’t budget and his heart meter remains completely steady.
Over in the enhanced interrogation area, we see Jack’s oldest ally, Chloe O’Brien, strapped to a stretcher and being tortured.
Back at the hotel, Mark returns to his room and meets up with his wife, who turns out to be Heller’s daughter (and Jack’s old flame), Audrey. Mark brings up her father confusing the Roosevelts and they realize his “symptoms” are beginning to show up. One of Mark’s aides arrives with news about Jack, which they discuss out of earshot from Audrey. Mark says that they need to “disappear” Jack after his interrogation and that they should hand him over to the Russians. Then, Heller, Mark and Audrey head out in the Presidential convoy, past a massive group of protesters.
Navarro continues interrogating Jack and warns that their time is running out. He offers to help him speak with his daughter, Kim, who has recently had another baby.
Outside, Jack and Gordon realize that the tip that led to Jack’s capture came from Jack himself and that he wanted to get caught for some reason. Kate locks Navarro out of the interrogation room and takes over, demanding to know what or who Jack is after. For the first time, his pulse rises. Kate knows he’s after someone. Navarro forces Kate from the room and tells her to leave the building — her transfer has come early.
When she’s out of sight, Kate tases her escort, calls Gordon and enlists him to figure out what Jack wants.
As Jack is led to the torture room by Eric and his men, he activates a device hidden in his hand. Then he effortlessly takes down his entire armed escort and puts Eric in a sleeper hold (Classic Bauer). Jack storms the interrogation room, finds Chloe and beats the crap out of the torture specialist when he says he’s not doing anything Jack hasn’t done. When Chloe proves unresponsive, Jack injects adrenaline straight into her heart to wake her. Jack and Chloe go on the move.
Upstairs, Gordon tells Kate about Chloe and she goes after them. While Gordon updates Navarro on what’s going on, Kate stumbles over the unconscious bodies of Eric and his team. Kate continues the pursuit, but Jack breaks open a few gas pipes and shoots them, rocking the entire building and filling the hallway with flames. But Jack and Chloe run out of hallway and Kate corners them. And then Jack activates the device in his hand again and his partner above ground fires a rocket at empty lot. The ceiling above the hallway caves in, Jack’s mystery friend drops a ladder down for them and they escape in his van.
In the Presidential limo, Heller admits that his condition is deteriorating faster than they thought, but it’s vital that he lock up the treaty with the British government. He promises to speak with Mark about what to do next when this is all over.
As Navarro surveys the damage done by Jack and company, he brings Kate back into the fold (against Eric’s wishes), realizing that she’s the only one who saw them coming.
Elsewhere, Jack gives Chloe a cell phone and tells her to go lay low with friends that he’d find her. When she’s gone, Jack and his mysterious ally, Belcheck, start to track her through her phone. He wonders why Jack didn’t just ask for her help since she’s his friend, but Jack insists that he doesn’t have any friends.
In the drone control room, Tanner finishes his escort mission and prepares to move onto another assignment. Then he loses control of his drone. Someone else is piloting it now. He tries to warn Shepherd, but he’s too late: the drone opens fire on the convoy.
As the soldiers struggle to care for their wounded and sort through the carnage, another man watches it all happen from his computer screen. Derek Yates makes a phone call and says “It’s done.”
Now in command of the operation to find Jack and Chloe, Kate blackmails a former ally on the London police force to help track their phones. He complies. Meanwhile, Eric complains about Kate’s traitorous husband to Navarro, but he gets shut down.
Chloe sneaks into a seemingly abandoned building, enters a code on locked door and find herself in a room full of computers in hackers. This is the mobile headquarters of the freedom information movement and these are her people. She’s been missing three days. She fills them in on what happened and the leader of the group, Adrian Cross, says they have to move immediately, especially since Jack is now involved. Like clockwork, Jack and Belcheck burs in, guns drawn, looking for Derek Yates. Cross says that he doesn’t work for him anymore and Jack roughs him him up until Chloe promises to help find him.
Jack fills everyone in on the details. Someone is planning to assassinate President Heller and Yates was the only name he has. Cross tells Jack that Yates was kicked out of the group when he started selling stolen government information to the highest bidder instead of releasing it to the public. Jack doesn’t try to hide his opinions of Cross’ organization, but Chloe mobilizes the team to search for Yates, angrily snapping at Jack that he should have just asked for help.
In a housing project guarded by gangsters and controlled by a crime lord named Basher, Yates works at his computer while his girlfriend, Simone, lounges around. Yates takes a phone call from Margot Al-Harazi, who demands to know if the military know he hacked their drone and if the device will be ready. With his employer assured, they arrange a meeting.
Tanner, handcuffed, meets with his superior officer. It seems that no one believes that his Drone was taken over and that the flight records directly implicate him. Not to mention that fact that Tanner apparently spent some time bashing Shepherd on military message boards. Tanner insists that he’s innocent and that he’s been set up, but things aren’t looking good.
Heller meets with British Prime Minister Alastair Davies and they discuss the finer points of the treaty. They’re interrupted by Mark, who informs Heller about the drone attack in private. Before they can work damage control, Davies learns about what happened and storms out. Two the soldiers killed were British soldiers and now the entire treaty is in jeopardy. Mark then takes a phone call from Navarro who updates him on Jack’s escape. Mark, now convinced that Jack is behind all of this, orders Navarro to capture him at all costs.
Back at the free information movement, Chloe notes that Belcheck has the tattoos of a Serbian gangster and ponders what Jack has been up to in the past four years. She asks why Jack is doing all of this and he says he owes Heller and Audrey this much. Chloe is angry about his motivations, saying that he shouldn’t fight to save the institutions that destroyed their lives. Jack calls her little more than a mouthpiece for Cross, but Chloe says he’s not allowed to judge her, especially since she went to jail to help him escape justice. Their discussion is interrupted by the hacker team, who have found the drone attack footage and realize that it’s definitely the work of Yates. Cross discovers where Yates is hiding and warns him the Basher will offer resistance. Chloe offers to go with Jack and offer back-up.
Meanwhile, Heller meets with mark and Audrey and he announces that he wants to speak directly to the British Parliament. He also wants to hand Tanner directly over to the British military. Mark isn’t fond of either, but Heller is optimistic about them both. When Heller leaves the room, Mark confides in Audrey that her father will undoubtedly fold under pressure from Parliament if he goes before them.
Yates puts the finishing touches on his device. He reveals to Simone that the President will be killed by drones, that war is inevitable and that they’ll escape to Greenland together after the exchange.
At the CIA station, Kate is finally able to track Jack and Chloe’s phones, so she heads out with Eric and a team to take them down.
Jack infiltrates Basher’s compound, with Chloe watching through the security cameras and guiding him through an earpiece from the back of her van.
At the Air Force Base, Tanner is escorted into the back a transport truck by armed guards.
In his hotel room, Heller rehearses his speech to Parliament, which goes well until he forgets the number of men who died. Mark, roleplaying as members of Parliament, tears into him. A disheartened Heller vows to keep practicing.
With Chloe’s help, Jack avoids most of Basher’s guards and makes it to Yates’ room. He takes one henchman hostage and tells Basher and his men that he’ll let them live if they don’t offer any resistance to Yates. They refuse, so Jack guns most of them down and stabs Basher. In the chaos, Yates and Simone flee. Jack grabs Yates’ thumb drive from his room and gives chase.
After a last-minute warning from Cross, Chloe flees her van just in time for Kate and her team arrive and surround it. They find only fried computer equipment and an abandoned cell phone. Kate and her team move toward the building and encounter Yates and Simone, who tell her that Jack is in he building and hostile. With perfect timing, Jack arrives and yells for the agents to apprehend Yates. They do not and order him to stand down. With even more perfect timing, a still very much alive Basher opens fire on the group, giving Jack enough time to escape into the building, Kate and the team in hot pursuit. They hunt Jack through the building’s basement garage, but he gets the drop on Kate and tells her he’s trying to save the President. She doesn’t believe him and Jack is forced to knock her out. Chloe arrives with a stolen car and they hightail it out of there, leaving Kate, and her broken ego, behind.
Jack, impressed with Chloe’s newfound car thievery skills, takes the wheel. Chloe examines Yates’ drive and finds the plans for a device that will allow the user to take control of 10 drones. Before she can save the data, the hard drive auto-deletes itself. The only option now is to capture Yates himself.
Yates and Simone take a breather in a pub. He tells her that Jack was obviously sent by Margot to eliminate him and take the device without having to pay. Now, they’ll have to find a new buyer. He steps into the bathroom, but Simone follows, knife in hand. She stabs him to death and takes the device. She throws away her blonde wig and takes a call from Margot, who approves of her decisions. Margot tells her to come home, because “mommy’s waiting.”
For better or for worse, the first two hours of ’24: Live Another Day’ are just more ’24.’ The same strengths that made the show a touchtone of ’00s culture remain, but so do the weaknesses. It’s still broad and silly, painting international politics with an embarrassingly large brush and playing fast and loose with the real time format. But it’s also superb entertainment, the rare action show that actually delivers Hollywood scale excitement. It’s all anchored by Kiefer Sutherland, who slips back into the role of Jack Bauer with ease. Somehow, he’s managed to make Jack darker, tougher and crueler and we can’t wait to see what extremes the show will toss at him this time.
The supporting cast isn’t bad, either. It’s good to have Mary Lynn Rajskub’s Chloe back in action and making her a a member of a rogue hacking team led by a Julian Assange-type is just the kick in the pants this character needed. It’s also nice to see Kim Raver’s Audrey and William Devan’s Heller back (they were last seen in season six), but the new characters are proving more exciting. In Yvonne Strahovski’s Kate Morgan, Jack finally has a white hat adversary who’s as good at this game as he is. Benjamin Bratt, John Boyega and Stephen Fry get less to do, but all three feel perfectly at ease with this deadly serious but oh-so-silly universe. Most intriguing is Michelle Fairley’s mysterious villain, who seems like the kind of conniving mastermind that defined the baddies of ’24′s best seasons.
New faces aside, it’s still ’24′ and that’s okay. It’s still shot with handheld cameras that make the action feel immediate and visceral. The split-screen effects are still a fantastic way to layer exposition and transition between scenes. The subject matter (drones!) is perfect fodder for the show, which has never seen a controversial subject it didn’t want to chew up and spit out, like Jack taking a bite out of a terrorist’s neck in the opening episode of season six. This is handsome, silly, and preposterous popcorn entertainment and we’ll have more specific thoughts as the show continues over the next few months. With only 12 episodes this season, there’s no reason for the show to have any fat anymore. So far, the return of Jack Bauer is lean, mean and wickedly fun.
Welcome back, ’24.’