Fox’s new ’24’ spinoff premiered after the Super Bowl this week (starting at 11 PM in many markets and 1:30 AM where I am in Boston) with a new lead actor but the same old formula. Is this really a good moment in world history to bring back a show that vilifies all Muslims as terrorists?
The new series is called ’24: Legacy’… because we all know how well it worked out for the Jason Bourne franchise to add a ‘Legacy’ spinoff without its original star. Jack Bauer is neither seen nor mentioned in the two-part premiere, which consisted of episodes on Sunday and Monday. Instead, the new Jack Bauer is Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins, whose role here explains why his character on ‘The Walking Dead’ conveniently went missing this season). Our hero is a black guy this time, to demonstrate that this show is totally not racist at all… so long as you’re not Muslim, of course.
Carter is a former Army Ranger. His last mission before he left the service was the assassination of a terrorist named Ibrahim Bin-Khalid. That op was coordinated by CTU, then headed by Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), who received a Congressional Gold Medal for its success. These days, Ingram has retired from CTU in order to support her husband, Sen. John Donovan (Jimmy Smits), as he campaigns for President. However, she misses her job and uses the first opportunity to pay CTU a visit.
The action starts when Muslim terrorists torture and murder most of the other members of Carter’s former Ranger unit. They come after Carter as well and capture him in his home, then question him about a lock box that had been stolen from Bin-Khalid’s house during the raid. Carter has no idea what they’re talking about. When his wife Nicole, who’s hiding in the attic, creates a distraction, Carter uses his badass Ranger skills to kill all these terrorists. Of course, he knows that more will come after him, because that’s what terrorists do.
Carter contacts Rebecca. Other than herself, only three people knew the identities of the Rangers who killed Bin-Khalid. She suspects that the new Director of CTU, Keith Mullins (Teddy Sears from ‘Masters of Sex’ and ‘The Flash’), is working with the terrorists and gave the unit up.
Because they can’t trust CTU, which in turn means that they probably also can’t trust anybody in law enforcement, Carter drops his wife off with his estranged brother, a militant drug kingpin named Isaac. Good plan.
It turns out that the lock box was swiped by the only other survivor from the Ranger unit, a guy named Ben Grimes. He’s a little off his rocker and now lives as a homeless drug addict. Rebecca tazes and restrains Mullins, then works on the sly with CTU’s new resident techie genius, Andy (Dan Bucatinsky) – whose exaggerated “Whaaaaa… a mole in CTU??? How could that happen??!!” double-take reaction surely signals that he’s the actual mole. They covertly use CTU resources to direct Carter to Grimes before the terrorists get to him.
Grimes still has the box, inside which are some cash and jewels that he feels he’s owed because the government treated him so badly. Carter finds a secret compartment also housing a flash drive, on which are the names and contact numbers for every terrorist sleeper cell in America. Whoa.
Unfortunately, the bad guys find Carter and Grimes, and chase them around a bus depot and a construction site. There’s lots of shooting. (A bit where Carter crushes some henchmen under a giant CGI sewer pipe rolling downhill is hilariously telegraphed way too early and looks very fake.) In the chaos, Grimes grabs the flash drive and runs away.
Grimes calls Carter and demands that the government has one hour to pay him $2 million or he’ll turn over the flash drive to the terrorists. Nice guy. Of course, neither Carter nor Rebecca can raise the money in time. Carter calls Isaac to ask if he has the dough. He doesn’t, but he jokingly mentions that the police recently confiscated just about that same amount in cash during a drug raid.
Carter then devises a Brilliant PlanTM to get himself arrested (he’s a black man in America; all he needs to do is look at a cop funny), then break into the totally unguarded police evidence locker and steal the money he needs. As Rebecca helps him with this, we the viewers slink down in our chairs and realize that, holy shit, it’s only two episodes in and this show has already gone completely off the rails.
Sadly, as dumb as this storyline is, it’s not even the worst part of the episode. In a totally idiotic subplot, a Chechen girl named Amira has seduced her high school teacher into joining her terrorist cell, and they have to murder her dipshit ex-boyfriend when he snoops around and discovers that they’re planning a mass murder.
The episode also has some business where Isaac’s girlfriend double-crosses him with a rival drug gang because she doesn’t like Nicole. Then Sen. Donovan is told that his campaign manager is probably a terrorist but refuses to believe it. This is all pretty painful filler material to waste time.
By the end of the episode, Director Mullins gets free and takes Rebecca into custody, which means that she can’t help Carter get out of the police station when the cops catch onto him and start shooting. Given that this 12-episode season still has 10 episodes left to go, I feel confident that he’ll find a solution to that.
Other than the change of main character, this is ’24’ as usual in every respect. Sadly, it’s later-season ’24’ as usual. The formula weighs very heavily on the proceedings and far too much screen time is wasted with really stupid plotting.
As the new lead, Hawkins is… you know, fine, I guess. He runs around shooting stuff well and doesn’t look too silly wearing a man-bag. However, his character isn’t given much personality for the actor to work with. He’s basically just a cipher to keep the plot moving from one action scene to the next. He does that OK but lacks Kiefer Sutherland’s charisma.
As we watched this, it was barely halfway through the first episode before my wife commented on how boring it was. I have to agree. I’m just not feeling ’24’ anymore and don’t know if I’ll stick around with the new guy.