TV review: “24: Live Another Day” means more and less Jack Bauer

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From the May 1, 2014 edition

When “24” ended its run four years ago, it was time for the hit action series to go. It had started out as an intriguing concept (and premise ripe for jingoistic exploitation post-9/11). But things had grown stale with Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) having to save the world, yet again, from the utmost threat, usually involving terrorists.

Bringing the show back for a limited series run — that will return again if ratings are good — and limiting each episode to 12-hour snapshots instead of 24 could be a way to re-inject life into the formula. “24: Live Another Day” has a faster pace and will surely bring back both die-hard fans and probably those who gave up. But it’s still Jack Bauer kicking ass, taking names and saving the world.

The story picks up four years after the events of the final season, and Jack is a fugitive the entire world wants to capture. Besides going up against terrorist baddies, he’s contending with CIA head Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) and agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), as well as political forces. Of course, fan favorite Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is back too.

While the first two episodes have strong action and the plot moves faster than it would in a 24-episode season, there’s still not enough originality for me to get on board.

Now, given that this could be the last time “24” is on a screen — highly doubtful given it’ll surely be a hit, and there have been talks about a movie for years — there could be some unexpected developments. But my gut says this won’t happen.

The first two outings, while not terrible, are easy to predict. This was the biggest problem with “24”: You knew Jack was going off-book, doing something badass and morally questionable, and would still save the day. In “24: Live Another Day” I’m certain Jack is going to do all these things all over again.

To paraphrase Rust Cohle, “24” is a flat circle.

Photo courtesy Fox