Plot: What’s it about?
You know what makes Jack Bauer angry? Having the feature-length version of 24 cancelled. Yep, that’s what happened to the show and it’s been a bumpy ride ever since the show “ended” in 2010. I use “ended” in quotes since, well, it’s now back. I can remember watching the first episode of the first season of 24 back in January 2002. The United States was still very much in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and this show, mainly about terrorism, hit a chord with the country. Of course the show was a hit and had an nice run for 8 seasons that had its hero (Keifer Sutherland) fought the bad guys in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and New York. Though each season (or “day” as the case may be) had its own flavor, the first and fifth seasons are widely regarded as the best. Having not had Jack Bauer on our screens for four years has been something to get used to, but with 24: Live Another Day, the wait is finally over. As the cover of Entertainment Weekly said: “Jack is Back, Dammit!” And so he is…
This latest installment should probably be labeled as “12” since it’s only 12 episodes and therefore 12 hours, but that’s splitting hairs. We find Jack Bauer (Sutherland) who, four years ago, was a fugitive from justice. Now in exile he’s once again called into action to try and save the world. Bauer and previous cohort Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) haven’t exactly kept in touch over the years, but Chloe, now working for super hip hacking operation, is thrown into the mix regardless if she likes it or not. The main premise focuses on U.S. President James Heller (William Devane), who has ordered a drone strike. This doesn’t sit too well with Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley), the widow of an al-Qaeda leader. Al-Harazi has managed to hijack the drones and now uses them as leverage to have her demands met else she’ll destroy London. Bauer must now work with CIA operative Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) and always must be aware that he can’t trust anyone but himself. I won’t drag this on, but suffice it to say that everything that made 24 a hit in the previous seasons is here as well and despite being only 12 episodes, they were 12 good episodes – not many shows can say that.
There are those that feel that 24 had its time and place and that it should move on. I disagree. Unlike many of today’s shows, 24 has a very cohesive plot where one episode literally relies on another (and another). Yes, we know that Jack is always in a “kill or be killed” status, but that’s the fun of the show. And, yes, we also realize that if the President of the United States isn’t in danger then there’s no show. What Live Another Day did best was to introduce us to a new set of characters while retaining some of our old favorites: Audrey, Heller, and Chloe to name a few. This might actually be the end for Jack Bauer, but it’s hard to argue that he epitomized the hard-as-nails character that’s become one of television’s favorites over the last decade. Look for great performances from Yvonne Sstrhovski (best-known for TV’s Chuck) as well as Benjamin Bratt and Tate Donovan. Fans of 24 will waste no time checking out Jack Bauer in this installment and for the uninitiated, this is a good place to start.
Video: How’s it look?
Of the nine seasons of 24, only the latest three (this, of course, being the latest of the bunch) are available in Blu-ray. Having watched the show as it aired on Fox HD, I can say that the presentation is, by and large, nearly equal to what was aired on TV. There are a few instances, though, in which I saw a bit more detail via the Blu-ray. It’s nothing night an day, but there are a few more elements of detail. Contrast and black levels are bold and strong. As the series has aged, some various film stocks and shots were used, Live Another Day seems to have a Saving Private Ryan effect with some of the outdoor action sequences. It’s hard to describe, but if you’ve seen the movie then you’ll know what I’m alluding to. All in all, it’s a great and accurate representation of what a television show should look like. A nice effort. I also have to add that the signature split screen with 2, 3 or four quadrants is in full effect here – I love that!
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is surprisingly strong. I know that in the past I’ve commented on the audio of some television shows, but Live Another Day makes full use of the mix and it uses it to great effect. Bauer’s grizzly, deep voice resonates through the center channel, while literally thousands of bullets whiz by from front to back and side to side. This is 24, so a lot of things blow up and we wouldn’t have them any other way, right? The LFE have a fair amount of time and while it’s not quite the same experience of, say, Godzilla, the show manages to pack an audio punch. Another nice effort here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You might assume since it’s been four years since the last season of 24, Fox might use this as an opportunity to load this release down with supplements. You would be mistaken. Though not featureless, the extras included here are a bit pedestrian. Nevertheless, let’s take a look.
- Solitary – A seven minute feature that somewhat extends the season featuring a character from the 24 past. Nice.
- Worlds Collide: When Reality Becomes Fiction – An interesting cross-section at the way that life imitates art…or does art imitate life?
- Deleted/Extended Scenes – Nearly 15 minutes’ worth, though it’s obvious as to why most of these were cut.
- 24: Live Another Day – Green Production – Doing their part for Mother Earth, 24 shows there are no limits to what they can accomplish.
- Destination: London – A look at the location shoot in London.