LOS ANGELES, February 8, 2017 – The front office of Fox has just introduced viewers to the latest reboot of “24.” The new edition, entitled “24: Legacy,” is most notable in that it doesn’t feature Jack Bauer, the original series’ star counterterrorism operative, as its lead character (But the show does bring back some of the earlier series’ cast members.)
The new series combines the tried and true subplots that drove the earlier seasons—a mole hunt inside CTU, drama inside the White House, a cocky agent and plenty of action scenes—into a new story line.
The current season follows the events that follow an Army Ranger attack on a terrorist hideout. The terrorists respond by killing the soldiers involved in the attack, leaving the new series hero, Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), to search for the man behind the incident while stopping a serious attack from occurring inside the country.
The legendarily addictive original “24” series ran from 2001 to 2010 and then briefly returned in 2014, became well-known (and notorious for some) for embracing George W. Bush’s foreign policy and use of torture as a means of extracting crucial information from hostile and determined terrorists.
The narrative trick that made this show work was its seamless blending high stakes operations with the personal crises of its central cast. Its first season launched a pair of pulse-pounding story lines, as hero Jack Bauer’s daughter ended up being kidnapped on the same day of a presidential assassination. In the “24” universe, the appropriate response to any minor political crisis was inevitably an attempt to launch a massive counterattack on terrorists that would hopefully succeed in leveling the playing field in the home team’s favor.
The signature “24” format — each episode represents an hour in real time — is as gripping as ever in this new series. One ingredient that has more or less disappeared, however, at least in the first four episodes, is the use of torture as a reliable way to get information, a frequent target of “24” critics. Did the writers anticipate that Hillary would be President when their new series launched? It’s likely no one will ever tell.
Along those speculative lines, however, even the political plot woven into the series’ complex web of intrigue has been given a feminist update, as Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) struggles with her promise to step down as the acting head of CTU. The reason why? To help her husband, Latino Senator John Donovan (Jimmy Smits), campaign for the Presidency of the United States. The hero at the center of the show is now a black man instead of a white man. This new version certainly takes care to cover all the PC bases.
Aside from the disappearance of Jack Bauer, all the standard “24” elements are in place in this new series, including the big-budget look that distinguished the first iteration. Yet the terrorism motif, for now at least, overshadows everything else as the new season gets underway.
While “24: Legacy” delivers plenty of action packed drama, it fails to provide us with a complex and flawed hero like Jack Bauer, who, among other transgressions, had cheated on his wife. Corey Hawkins’ Eric Carter is less complicated and potentially less interesting than Jack. He’s simply a guy who wants to whack bad guys for no particular moral reason.