Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Jack is back!

24 is back after a four-year hiatus. The series originally got a tremendous head of steam from the 9/11 attacks, and the fact that the first season was daring. But over time it ran out of steam, both because 9/11 began to fade and because political correctness made the producers lose their nerve.

Ironically, America is under greater threat today than it was after 9/11. But the threats are internal rather than external. Not from jihadis, but the gov't and the ruling class. 

It's fun to see Chloe in her new Goth hacktivist persona. It's also nice to see a genuinely strong, interesting female character for a change, rather than a fashion model miscast as a tuff girl.

Sutherland is already looking long of tooth to play an action hero. He's not that old (47), but he looks like a typical Hollywood actor who's lived too hard too fast. This, combined with the fact that he never had the athletic physique of a natural action star, makes the hand-to-hand combat sequences less than convincing.  

The pilot episode has a well-crafted scene of how Jack breaks Chloe out of detention. However, it's unclear (at least to me) why he did that. Is he endangering himself to rescue a valued friend and colleague? That would be an admirable expression of loyalty. Both have risked their necks for each other at various times. 

Or is he rescuing her because he needs her cyber skills and counterintelligence expertise? If so, that's more cynical. He's simply using her as a means to an end. 

The pilot also trades on certain headlines, like predator drones. By the same token, Chloe channels Ed Snowden. Apparently (I've only read reviews), this is something it shares in common with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In a way , it's refreshing to see Hollywood do political allegories which take a swipe at the Obama administration. But thus far, that development is half-hearted at best. 

Unfortunately, the drone/NSA ingredients seem to be plot devices rather than philosophical issues which drive the plot. In the pilot, the controversy centers on an American air force base on English soil, which directs predator drones in Middle Eastern operations. But even if that would be unpopular for many English citizens, it's a clinker for an American audience. 

To make it play better for an American audience, the venue should be changed to American soil, where the issue would involve domestic drones. One way to do this would be to retain the domestic terrorist theme, but have them engineer a drone strike on a Little League game, as a way of galvanizing public opinion against domestic drones. 

I'm not saying that's the best way to rewrite the plot. Just an improvement over the pilot.

But if 24 really wants to exploit the gov't conspiracy angle, a more effective way would be to make an ambitious, Machiavellian president stage an attack on, say, a Superbowl game, pin the blame on domestic terrorists, then use that as a pretext to declare martial law. He could then deploy his domestic drones to neutralize political opponents, investigative reporters, and generally subjugate the populace.

Jack and Chloe could spearhead a resistance movement. That would have a lot more resonance than the current plot, which plays it safe.  

1 comment:

  1. My wife and I liked watching the old 24 too, and this one has started out OK. I think there's more to President Heller's forgetfulness and/or "mistakes" in citing historic events.