24: Legacy Review

24 has been remarkably consistent over the years. Even when they switched to 12 episodes, the machinations that keep the real time going are a well-oiled machine. With 24: Legacy, it feels good to be back in a familiar zone but see all the new directions this story could take.

It is just after noon when Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) springs into action, defending himself and his wife Nicole (Anna Diop) from killers who come to their home in Arlington, VA. Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) makes one last trip to CTU after she’s left the agency, and gets roped back in when Eric needs her help. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s husband John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) is beginning a day of campaigning for President in D.C. 

24 still knows how to make the real time work. Major things happen right before an act break to give the characters time over the commercial break to recover. Eric gets knocked out but comes to as soon as we’re back. The split screens still show us everyone’s mundane business as a way to track the time it takes for general tasks to complete. There are still a lot of cell phone conversations to keep characters abreast, and a lot of intense whispering.

The action is exciting. A climactic fight at a construction site shows Eric has a bit more military martial arts at his disposal than Jack Bauer did. The production value looks big too, with a few extras as construction workers and a crane that plays into the action. The gunfight in Eric’s home is exciting, even though it’s only between five people. It’s not John Woo, but 24 knows how to make the most of the intimate stakes for a few people.

Along with the action, 24 still knows how to do Hitchcockian suspense. Rebecca secretly uses surveillance technology to help Eric, and when she’s caught, there is a ticking clock before she’ll be reported and lose the surveillance feed. Will she find out what Eric needs to know in time? The Legacy pilot shows that characters will still pull outrageous moves to give themselves more time.

The political side of 24: Legacy, which was always important with David Palmer in the original series, is just getting started in the noon hour. We will see how the Donovan campaign develops over the course of the day, but he has a great scene with his campaign aid Nilaa (Sheila Vand) that shows he’s not taking any crap, and she’s not one to be messed with.

Where 24: Legacy creates new territory is in introducing new characters. Meeting the Carter family is fun because they are not the Bauers. Perhaps most interesting is Isaac (Ashley Thomas), Eric’s brother and Nicole’s ex. That’s enough backstory for a whole show right there but imagining how they’ll have to support each other in a crisis is juicy. I’m also hopeful Isaac’s team of street badasses will pay off.

New CTU analysts have a relevant dynamic, an argument between formal training and practical skills. One character pays a nice homage to Edgar, a fan favorite who’s legacy now lives on.

The last five minutes of the noon hour set up a terrorist threat, someone who’s bitter over the treatment he’s received. It’s a sympathetic motivation, which makes the best and most complex villains, but obviously still has to be stopped. The whole country can’t pay for what he’s been through, and I have faith in Eric Carter to stop him within the next 11 hours.

***

24: Legacy premieres Sunday, February 5, 2017, right after Super Bowl LI.

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