WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
The original iteration of 24 was a revolutionary television series. Each episode took place in “real time,” covering a single hour of a twenty four hour day. The show made Kiefer Sutherland into a legendary television “tough guy” as Jack Bauer and was a huge hit for its first few seasons. But in later seasons, 24 suffered from ridiculous storylines, dumb subplots and predictable twists. By the time the show ended in 2010 (Not counting the one season revival 24: Live Another Day in 2014), it seemed as though it had simply lost creative imagination.
24: Legacy is officially a “spin-off” of the original show. Only Tony (Carlos Bernard) returns in a recurring role. Is the new show taking a fresh approach to the well known formula?
While 24: Legacy’s main storyline is compelling and exciting in places, it feels all too familiar. As former Army Ranger Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) tries to stop a terrorist attack, you can’t shake a feeling of Deja vu. Worst of all, it may suffer from the same terrible soap opera subplots that troubled the original show. I truly hope I’m wrong, but could have been an enjoyable thrill ride may become a cliche ridden mess.
Familiar Characters and Twists
Carter is one of the only survivors of a crack team of Army Rangers that killed bin-Khalid, a known terrorist leader. Searching for a strong box containing a list of terrorist sleeper cells in the United States, Khalid’s former henchmen hunt for the troubled Ben Grimes (Charlie Hofheimer), the only other survivor of the squad and the one who stole the box in the first place.
Only the heads of the intelligence agencies knew the identities of the squad so Carter approaches the only one he can trust: former head of CTU Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto). Despite the fact that her husband John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) is running for President, Ingram pulls out all the stops to aid Carter as he tries to hunt down the strong box.
Corey Hawkins is solid as the lead Eric Carter but he feels a little too similar to Jack Bauer. Is Carter a tough guy with a troubled past? Yes. Can he take down a group of terrorist single handed? Double yes. Does he have trust issues with his superiors? Affirmative.
Despite this, Carter is still a likeable character simply because Hawkins is so believable in the role. Much like Sutherland, there is a quiet intensity to Hawkins’ eyes, like some hidden pain is brewing there. Eric’s wife Nicole (Anna Diop) tells his older brother Isaac (Ashley Thomas) as much, hinting that he lives for the violence from his time as an Army Ranger.
Carter’s backstory feels a little more fleshed out than Jack’s mysterious past. The mystery worked for Jack and I’m glad Legacy doesn’t try to replicate that. Granted, we only get hints to Carter’s past (His father suffered at the hands of the US Government and at one time he worked with drug dealer Isaac) but there is something tangible for the writers to flesh out.
Thomas’ Isaac is a bit stereotypical but he hasn’t been fleshed out yet. It is funny to hear him end nearly every line to Nicole with an “Aight” though. It feels so artificial. The thing that scares me the most about this subplot is Isaac’s girlfriend Aisha (Tiffany Hines) who is jealous of the shared past between Nicole and Isaac. Apparently, Carter “stole” Nicole from him. Aisha is obviously going to be territorial and will cause some sort of unnecessary trouble.
And then there’s the potential sleeper cell storyline involving teenage terrorist Amira (Kathryn Prescott). When the character shows up at a high school and argues with Drew (Zayne Emory) I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Unpleasant flashbacks to Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) will fill your head the moment this character comes on screen. And the fact that she is a terrorist who is romancing a teacher into the cell makes it even more ridiculous.
24 didn’t handle female characters all that well with a couple of exceptions (Michelle Dessler or the villainous Nina Myers come to mind) and the above examples show that troubling trend may continue in Legacy. Nicole shows some ingenuity and strength when she helps Carter escape the terrorist early in the show. But the strongest female character here is Otto’s Ingram.
Ingram has a realistic compassion to her as she tries to help Carter tempered by a toughness that is willing to cross lines when she deems it necessary. She does taze new CTU head Mullins when he tries to stop her unauthorized operation. It’s nice to see a tough woman in a position of power…let’s just hope they don’t pull a President Taylor (Cherry Jones) on the character. The presence of Tony Almeida worries me…will he try to influence her down the line?
That leads me to the overly familiar plot twists. CTU (Also known as the least secure government agency in the history of televised espionage) is obviously going to have a mole. And the most obvious suspect will not be the actual mole. Donovan will most likely be linked some how, possibly via his powerful father (Gerald McRaney). It’s all been done before…let’s hope this isn’t the direction the show is going.
The Good Changes
While Legacy has some major problems, there are some interesting changes. The action scenes feel much more fluid. It isn’t just two groups of people shooting at each other for static shots and it also doesn’t rely on shaky cam action as well. It strikes a nice balance, though it isn’t always perfect.
Carter’s escape from his own home is exciting, but also feels weirdly edited. It feels like some visual effects are haphazardly edited in to create the illusion of one continuous take as Carter escapes from his restraints and shoots the first terrorist. On the other hand, the ending shoot out where Carter takes out a group of terrorists with a huge pipe is incredibly well executed.
Another welcome change is the soundtrack. It sounds like something out of a Michael Bay film, but despite my distaste for the filmmaker, it works here. It fits the more fluid action scenes well and I found myself humming it later during the credits. If Legacy can continue to build on these positives it could be a solid series.
An Early 2000s Plot Line in Troubled Times?
As a big fan of the original show until it started getting bad, I looked at Legacy as a bit of a cash grab, an attempt to cash in on nostalgia for the original show. I appreciate the presence of a different character, but as I pointed out above Carter is basically a different version of Jack Bauer.
I’m also troubled by the choice to use Middle Eastern terrorists (Or jihadists as they are credited on the Internet Movie Database) in these incredibly divisive times. With the controversy and anger over the Muslim ban, the use of sleeper cells is especially troubling. I understand that most of this show was filmed long before any of these story choices were made. But it still troubles me, more so than any plot problems.
There is hope though. As I pointed out, Legacy is taking many of the original show’s plot twists. Most likely, there is more to who the real villains are here. At least, I truly hope there is.
24: Legacy airs every Monday at 8pm on Fox
SCORE: 6 OUT OF 10