I got sucked into 24 shortly after the DVDs of the first season came out, at which point my then-girlfriend and I devoured those episodes in a period that we realized--sometime around hour six or seven, and with a combination of guilt and elation--more or less echoed the real time gimmick of the show. When 24's good, there are few shows that're more addictive; unfortunately, 24 is rarely that good. Frankly, I've tuned out over the past few seasons, and it took 24: Redemption--a TV movie/prequel to the seventh season, that aired on Sunday and came out on DVD on Tuesday--to lure me back in. Did Redemption rekindle my love of watching Jack Bauer shoot terrorists and piss off dumbshit bureaucrats?
In a word: Sort of. (Okay, two words.) Redemption is pretty indicative of 24 as a whole: There's a lot of action; there's utterly no moral middle ground, only good guys and bad guys; and most scenes seem to be included for the sole purpose of proving that Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer is a total badass. It's cheesy and simplistic, true, but that's kind of the point: If nothing else, 24 strikes me as an '80s Steven Seagal movie that sometimes dresses up as The West Wing.
Redemption also seems made to bring back fans who, like me, haven't paid much attention over the past few years: Going in, all you really need to know is Jack Bauer is a government agent, and that the show plays out in real time. As Redemption opens, it becomes clear that Bauer--probably because he has no regard for stupid "laws" and "rules" when they get in the way of him kicking asses and taking names--has pissed off some dumbshit bureaucrats, and now finds himself more or less in exile, hiding from the U.S. government in Africa where, naturally, because NO MATTER WHAT THOSE DUMBSHIT BUREAUCRATS THINK, Jack Bauer is good-hearted and kind, and he is helping Begbie from Trainspotting run a school for African boys who'd otherwise get turned into child soldiers. (Like Blood Diamond, Redemption is fully aware that nothing tugs at heartstrings like seeing adorable little kids toting around automatic weapons.) Long story short, dumbshit bureaucrats come after Bauer, evil rebels come after the boys, and [SPOILER ALERT] redemption is found. (There's also some ominous business about eeeeevil Jon Voight playing some sort of fancy-pants bad guy who's secretly funding the rebels, some stuff about a new president getting sworn in, and a few other scenes that don't have Jack Bauer shooting people in them--they feel boring and beside the point, but I'm guessing they're just there to set up whatever's gonna happen in season seven.)
I've always thought that 24 might work better in movie format than in week-to-week installments, and Redemption kinda proves me right: This isn't great cinema or anything, but it is pulpy and fun, and the condensed runtime does seem to get rid the annoying tendency of 24's writers to cram in preposterous threats every hour, on the hour. Would I watch Redemption if I caught it on TV and didn't really want to do any serious thinking? Totally. Would I recommend anyone go out of their way to watch this DVD? Eh, not really.
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