Wednesday, 16 July 2014

24: Live Another Day

I review 24: Live Another Day, the ninth season of thriller TV series 24, a limited event starring Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Yvonne Strahovski, Kim Raver and William Devane.

24: Live Another Day’s twelve episode run ended this week and whilst I had never watched a series of 24 before, I’m glad that I gave this show a try when it returned for a limited event series set in London. It didn’t take long to establish the show’s premise, and it didn’t take me long to be hooked in as well, with a fast and compelling storyline that proved just why the show is probably one of the best thrillers on television.

Kiefer Sutherland’s tough guy, Jack Reacher-esque Jack Bauer is back after four years spent off the grid, just as President Heller (William Devane) arrives in London to discuss a meeting with the Prime Minister (Stephen Fry) regarding the use of Drones in warfare. However, nobody is quite sure why he’s back, and Bauer finds himself taken hostage by the CIA – which include Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), who’s on her last day of the job. However, getting into the CIA was all part of Bauer’s plan, because he’s there to rescue Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), a brilliant systems analyst. But rescuing Chloe was only the start of his plan, and it isn’t long before he stumbles onto a terrorist plot that reaches beyond a simple planned assassination on the President.

Right from the start, you’re in thriller territory here. Its action packed and the episodes don’t let up, with the show told in real-time format, with each episode taking place over the course of an hour. It allows for a real sense of scale and with the tension as high as it is, all the action that takes place over a single day is very entertaining to watch as the threats escalate over the course of the day. The writers are confident and whilst this show may not be the most original on TV, it certainly manages to be one of the most entertaining and addictive dramas that you’ll see this year.

It’s always a bonus when a show takes place in England, especially London, but the problem with 24: Live Another Day is something that comes with many American-made London-set productions (with Thor: The Dark World being one of the more recent examples). They get the geography of the City wrong and as an Ex-Londoner myself, it’s something that really will put you off as you wonder how they could have gotten from one side of the city to another so quickly. However, it’s only a minor problem, because the show manages to remain incredibly entertaining right the way through.

The stakes are raised over the course of the series and it all culminates in an event that works. It’s thanks to the strong acting talents of Kiefer Sutherland and others that we get a good performance on show here, and William Devane’s President Heller is one of the show’s highlights. Showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, he won’t even remember the shocking events that took place and it also means that we probably won’t see him if 24 returns, which will be a real shame because Devane was fantastic. It was a welcome surprise seeing Stephen Fry play the Prime Minister, and with him being excellent in almost everything he does it’s great to see him here. 

The cast is numerous and are mostly well written. Yvonne Strahovski’s Kate Morgan is a good counterpart to Bauer, and it’s great to see her here. Michelle Fairley also impresses as the series’ main antagonist, Margot Al-Harazi, delivering a performance as a ruthless cold blooded terrorist that puts her in unfamiliar territory from her previous Catelyn Stark that Game of Thrones viewers will be familiar with.

If you can put aside the logic gaps and the many ridiculous moments that 24: Live Another Day has to offer, and turn your brains off going into it then you should enjoy it. It’s an American action blockbuster ‘event’ that feels like a Summer movie, and plays out very well indeed. There are twists and turns and whilst some may be predictable, others will come as a surprise, and the show isn’t perfect, it stays consistently entertaining and is great fun to watch.

It’s a shame to see 24: Live Another Day go however and I would welcome a return of another 24 event. In the meantime though I am certainly considering a watch of the earlier episodes in this show on Netflix, but for now, this is something that thriller fans will enjoy and is well worth checking out. The stakes are always high and it’s an awesome thrillride from start to finish, so this comes recommended.


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