Written by DVD, TV

24: Redemption

For whatever reason, I’ve recently ended up on a few PR companies’ lists for “Bloggers'” events. I’ve been invited to a few film screenings here and there – although I’ve not been able to make disappointing number of them. That’s more the shame because screenings tend to take place in and around the West End, and that’s where I work.
Then, recently, I was invited to the launch of an interesting new 3 handset which I wrote about here.
Then last week, I got an invitation to a bloggers’ screening of the new 24: Redemption two hour TV-movie. The screening was to take place the following Thursday.
Er – hang on. It was going to be shown on Sky One on Monday and it had aired on Fox in the US on Sunday.
Ah. But this was to be the DVD release which was an extended cut, and would feature a trailer for series/day 7 coming in the New Year.
So should I just watch the Sky One showing on Monday, or wait until Thursday to see it in a nice screening room?
Decisions, decisions.
Because I was a little slow in replying my place wasn’t secured until the last minute, but circumstances meant that I hadn’t had a chance to watch my Sky+ recording anyway. So I headed off to Soho House to watch the screening.
Recent series of 24 have swung wildly between good, and very bad. The most recent series – season/day 6 – began well although it was clear that by the time they’d let off a nuke, they were going to struggle. And the plot involving Jack’s own dad trying to kill him was dreadful. The writers looked like they’d struggled for ideas – seemingly repeating storylines that had appeared in previous series.
When the writers’ strike go under way in autumn 2007, it knocked production of 24 completely out, and the producers and network decided to skip a year and return in 2009. Early story ideas were going to see Jack Bauer in Africa, and these have ended up being used in this film. In the meantime, behind the scenes Joel Surnow, one of the series’ creators was kicked off the show, and we began to wonder whether the over-reliance on torture (“It doesn’t work” said Leonardo DiCaprio’s character to Russell Crowe’s in the recent Body of Lies).
And so to Redemption which takes place in the fictional Sangala in Africa. Jack is holed up in an American sponsored school for local African kids run by the Irish (!) Benton (Robert Carlyle). We’re told that Jack and Benton know one another from the special forces, but it’s unclear why and how and they might have met.
Across the border from Sangala, a vicious warlord is rounding up kids so that they can be armed and sent into battle – effectively as cannon fodder. In perhaps the film’s best scenes, you find kids holding AK47s quite chilling.
The real time concept is kept and we’re told that the action takes place between 3pm and 5pm. Meanwhile in Washington, the new president is being inaugurated seemingly without a great deal of help from the outgoing Powers Boothe. 24 of course gave us a black president, and now that we have Obama in reality, they’re giving us a female president in the shape of Cherry Jones. We also meet her son, and his friend. But the Washington aspect of the story is really all set-up for the forthcoming series 7.
Back in Africa, the rebels still need more kids despite the fact that they have no time to train them as their attack on the country is imminent. And guess which school’s kids is in the firing line. Fortunately there’s a hidden cellar where they can hide out – along with the cowardly UN guy who, of course, is French.
Can Jack save the kids with Benton despite the US government having a warrant for his arrest? What do you think?
The build up is quite nice and measured. Despite the short running time, it doesn’t run at the same lunatic pace as many episodes of 24 can do. Quite why the rebels would get so worried about Bauer is a little unclear (he kills someone’s brother, so there has to be revenge). But in an attack on the school, the soldiers are still after a dozen kids, even when about a dozen adults have been killed in the attack. It doesn’t seem worth it!
What was a bit disappointing was the terribly clunky product placement. Seemingly US network Nextel is available in fictional African countries – the phones are held up to the camera just a little bit too long to make sure we can see. And when the US president conducts video chats on three monitor set-ups, he or she sees a massive Cisco screensaver whenever they switch off the video conferencing system. It’s a bit clunky.
We also saw a 15 minute preview of day 7 – essentially the first fifteen minutes of the first episode. It begins with a terrific stunt involving the kidnapping of someone. Then we cut to Jack Bauer who’s giving testimony about his torture. It seems that all that shooting people in the legs to get information is finally catching up with him.
It’s no surprise to learn that Tony Almeida is back – Carlos Bernard’s name is in the credits. Yes – I know we thought he was dead. But could he really be working for the other side? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out…