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Can "24: Live Another Day" Turn Back the Clock?

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire May 1, 2014 at 3:03PM

How does Jack Bauer fit into the world of drone bombers and Wikileaks -- and, more importantly, the era of Netflix and binge-watching?
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Jack Bauer

The reviews for "24: Live Another Day" are starting to flood in like poison gas into the CTU compound, and the chances are good that if you stuck with Jack Bauer through all or even part of his nine previous years on Fox, you'll be back for Monday's two-hour reboot. The showrunners have tweaked the real-time concept this time: Every episode still covers an hour, but they're not all consecutive, and most importantly, the number of episodes in a season has been halved. (The title stays, though: "12" doesn't have much of a ring to it.) But even so, the almost abstract formality remains baked: When someone says they've got a meeting in 28 minutes, all you need to do is glance at the clock to know if that means this episode or the next.

The world this "24" comes into, however, is not the one it left, less because the plot now includes drone bombers and a Wikileaks-like hacker cabal than because the season-long, twist-driven story, a risky rarity in 2001, has become de rigueur. Can the show still pull its double-triple-quadruple crosses without the audience always being a step ahead? Let's find out in 3... 2... 1...

Reviews of "24: Live Another Day"

David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

Because "24" was so far ahead of its time during its first go-round, the new incarnation doesn't feel at all dated. But there is obvious irony in that a show that presaged the dawn of the age of binge watching is returning on a weekly basis on broadcast TV. Granted, you can "snack-watch" two episodes a week, or you can just record episodes on your DVR and watch the whole thing at once after June. But if this were Netflix, you'd get the whole shebang at once and consume as much as you wanted.

Chuck Barney, San Jose Mercury News

The revived "24" is still instantly involving and packed with a dizzying rush of suspenseful crescendos. The new Jack, meanwhile, is the same as the old Jack, which is to say he flips the bird in the face of terror and squirms his way out of major messes like a gun-toting Houdini -- all while managing to make a man purse look good.

James Poniewozik, Time

If you want a "24" very much like the show that went off the air in 2010, it will please you; if you’ve forgotten much about the show in the intervening four years, it might surprise you. Otherwise, "24" is very much "24," even if this one only adds up to 12.

Aaron Riccio, Slant

The result is a leaner, scrappier "24" that is both firmly within its comfort zone -- the unstoppable Jack, unflinchingly facing interrogators and taking down three guards while handcuffed -- and somehow outside it, with Jack and the other returning characters more readily showing the wear and tear of their profession. 

Merrill Barr, Forbes

The Jack Bauer we all fell in love with in 2001 when we needed a hero like him is back, and he's back with purpose. There's no telling how "conclusive" the mini-series will be, no word if it will be the conclusion we all wanted in 2010 (rumors of a feature are still floating around), but based on the first two hours, this is definitely a much better taste of "the last of Bauer" than we were previously given.

Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

I’ll admit that I sometimes miss the more relatable tones of early "24" -- the first five seasons were spectacular -- and doubt that the show can ever get there again, but the producers have so embraced the larger-than-life elements of their beloved character that it’s hard not to enjoy the show on those terms. We needed a hero in 2001. Maybe we need a superhero in 2014.

Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly

"24: Live Another Day" -- a reanimation of Kiefer Sutherland's thriller, which clocked out four years ago -- shambles back sadder than most. Despite the high-grade action, the premiere is more a showcase for everything that was bad about "24" than a reminder of everything that was good.

Scott Stinson, National Post

Despite its attempts to be of the moment, with a central story that involves the controversial U.S. drone program and the controversial question of hacker groups, complete with Jack sneeringly dismissing the Assange/Snowden-type figurehead with a "I bet you think you’re a patriot" put down, "24" is not a series that you watch for its realism. 


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