A new clock starts ticking as the world of 24 emerges back to television. Jack Bauer is out as a new hero and a new threat emerge. Playing to both the franchise’s strengths and weaknesses, 24: LEGACY displays jingoistic tendencies the show is beloved for. This fast-paced series premiere shows that maybe the anthology approach should’ve been executed with on the mothership show as the new characters are all fleshed out enough to warrant this spin-off.
Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid’s death has lead to a fallout on a group of Army Rangers who have assassinated him. A box of Bin-Khalid’s was stolen during the Rangers’ mission that contains something valuable. Unfortunately for the squad, they are being taken out one by one, along with their families, for the box. The squad leader Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) is alerted by fellow squad mate Ben Grimes (Charlie Hofheimer). With the help of Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), the former head of CTU, Eric must race against time to locate Ben who has the box and figure out the plot of Bin-Khalid’s associates before it’s too late.
Even though Eric’s first scene with his wife has bad dialogue, the first thirty or so minutes moves fast enough to be highly entertaining. We get to know our lead characters and their situations while the threat of the season rears it’s head. I was not expecting to hear the name Edgar Stiles, a former CTU analyst who was on the main show during its fourth and fifth seasons, as his cousin Mariana Stiles is now the lead analyst. Rebecca and her Senator husband John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) are good characters, but this is where the show falters. As with the main show the characters personal problems were always a weak spot. Rebecca taking care of Eric and Ben’s problems while she puts her husband’s fundraisers on hold are typical at this point. So is Eric’s wife Nicole (Anna Diop) and her past relationship with Eric’s drug dealing brother who lives in the projects Issac (Ashley Thomas). I was very happy to see 24 have a black lead character but then to make his brother the stereotypical drug dealer and then find out that Eric used to work with his brother before joining the Army was disgusting. Evan Katz and Manny Coto can do so much better than that. Not to mention they make it so obvious that Issac’s current girlfriend Aisha (Tiffany Hines) is gonna snitch to someone that Nicole is at their place to have terrorists rain down upon them. Rebecca is working with Keith Mullins (Teddy Sears) to make the transition of power at CTU more smoothly, but as she assisting Eric, Keith finds out and tries to lock her out which gave me pause. First, if Keith is in on it (which I highly doubt as 24 never makes the heel turn twist obvious) I understand why Rebecca is running a secret op. But, and second, he should know that she would probably have a good reason for using their system. So for him to shut her out is kinda stupid, but also plays into the typical CTU employees watch and report each other that’s now very, very played out.
This show feels dangerous to be on the air as of now. Katz and Coto play up the Islamophobia by tenfold. Having a high school student integrate into American life after becoming an American citizen is retrograde. We’re at a point where we are actively blocking Muslims from entering the country and their depiction here is really despicable and irresponsible. This has never been a strong point for 24 but man this taking a forest fire and adding 3 boxes of lighter fluid to it. The show’s primary terrorist antagonist have always been Muslim Middle Eastern people, Russians and/or the Chinese and sometimes all three as we last saw in the Live Another Day miniseries. When the show was on the decline, they did a TV movie in real time from 3 pm to 5 pm called 24: Redemption. That was excellent as it showed Jack Bauer in Africa helping refugees while taking on an U.S. aided African warlord. We do not need Russians, Middle Easterns and Chinese to be the antagonists all time especially as our current Commander in Cheif has really dicey relations with all three right now that could launch us into another war. What would be cool is to have a misguided American patriot be the big bad as he launches an attack on American soil. Even better let’s take this overseas like we did in Redemption and Live Another Day. Not to mention the hot topic of torture on which the show relied upon for years. Here our Islamic terrorist antagonists torture people for information for the MacGuffin and it’s hard to not feel some type of way about it. Like I said this is all very, very dangerous.
And while director Stephen Hopkins made Eric and Nicole’s escape from their home thrilling with an excellent tracking shot as they exited the house, the final shootout was goofy. Taking place at a construction site, Eric shoots down a construction pipe using it as cover as it rolls down a hill while the pipe itself is a rolling pin taking out a few terrorists as well. Watching this it’s hard not imagine that this not written by a fifteen-year-old who’s played too much Call of Duty. This is so over the top and straight out of a video game that I couldn’t stop laughing.
24 was definitely a show for the post-9/11 times that outstayed its welcome. Even then-President George W. Bush said that the people of Islam were one of peace. Legacy takes place three years after Live Another Day, but there’s really nothing establishing that timeline. This show falls in line with short-term nostalgia. We are in the midst of reviving old shows and franchises across every media platform possible without the question of why? And is it a good idea? As we close the episode with Ben on the run using the MacGuffin as leverage for money, I can’t help but wonder if this is fear mongering propaganda. The MacGuffin is a list of sleeper cells waiting to be activated around America and with some character portrayals, a lot of this feels reductive. Let’s see where this goes, but it seems like this is gonna live up to its title in the worst possible way. Still, it’s not all bad as those first thirty minutes were so strong and fast.
Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
24: Legacy airs Mondays at 8PM on Fox
A lifelong film enthusiast since he can remember, Brandon is an indie filmmaker/screenwriter and freelance critic who resides in Trenton, NJ. Feel free to hit him up on Twitter to talk movies, shows, and music (especially hip-hop).
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Brandon Norwood | Contributor