After numerous attempts at translating its time-sensitive story from the small screen to the multiplex fell through, Kiefer Sutherland’s battle-hardened Jack Bauer makes his long-awaited return in the poorly titled 24: Live Another Day, a miniseries that acts as both a standalone outing and a continuation of the relentless travails of the beleaguered anti-terrorist crusader. Shifting the action across the channel to the UK and shortening the episode count from twenty-four to twelve, this truncated rehash offers die-hard fans of the original series a welcome update on the whereabouts of the show’s iconic characters, yet it’s a recap that verges on near-total self-parody.
Set four years since the original series’ apparent final episode, which saw Bauer voluntarily going off the grid and on the run from Russian and American forces, Live Another Day sees him coming out of exile in London in an attempt to thwart an imminent terrorist attack. Enlisting the help of old friend Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub, in full Lisbeth Salander mode) – who has since swapped a career in counter-terrorism for a clandestine hacker collective preaching free information, Bauer sets about attempting to uncover the individual responsible for gaining control of six US drones for malicious intent. This is made complicated by news of a likely attempt on the life of President James Heller (played by William Devane), a previous acquaintance of Bauer’s who is in London negotiating a peace treaty.
Once again racing against the clock, Bauer quickly re-assumes his position of protector of the people, encountering old faces and battling new enemies in a conspiracy that has potentially global repercussions. Consciously parting with the precedent-setting 24-hour format of the original series, though maintaining its real-time aesthetic, this follow-up to a once great show is an entirely welcome update for fans left reeling from season eight’s divisive final scene. It also offers showrunners the opportunity to eradicate the bagginess of its later years and renew it afresh, though this proves to be somewhat squandered. Rife with the usual levels of laughable plot contrivances and abundant red herrings, LAD is more of an underwhelming addendum than the memorable reprieve it could and arguably should have been, planting the action in a new metropolis but doing little with the possibilities London has to offer.
Nor does Live Another Day offer any particularly noteworthy character progression; however game Sutherland is to revive this extremely unbeatable character, Bauer never really moves away from the established persona of a dedicated man on a mission, with the finer details of his four-year disappearance left frustratingly unclear. The same can also be said for Rajskub’s O’Brian: trapped behind Gothic make up and a thinly-outlined personal tragedy that feeds her newfound rage. Though the action set pieces are as rousing as ever, the plot that binds them together is rarely as interesting, thrilling or prescient as it thinks it is, maintaining the two-tiered tactic, but rarely engaging enough to sustain twelve episodes. Leaving the door wide open for future outings, Bauer et al. could live to fight another day, but as it stands their latest stint is a largely mediocre and underwhelming affair.