24: Redemption

Jack: "If they want me back in Washington, they can come and get me."

24: Redemption is a TV movie that takes place between seasons six and seven of the main series. It doesn't actually have a title other than 24; I'm not sure how it acquired its subtitle. I saw it once when it aired in 2008 and didn't remember it well, but am happy to report that it was better than I expected. It features strong performances by Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Carlyle, and a predictable but still touching plot about child soldiers in the mythical African country of Sangala.

(This review includes massive spoilers!)

Since the end of Day 6, Jack Bauer has been traveling around the world and has stopped for awhile at Okavango School, a mission school for boys, operated by old Special Forces friend Carl Benton (Robert Carlyle). Unfortunately, a revolution against the government of Sangala was brewing, and rebel General Juma ordered Colonel Ike Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) to recruit little boys as soldiers – mostly to clear minefields, which is just utterly despicable.


Dubaku's brother Youssou led an attack on the Okavango School to take the boys, and Jack fought off the soldiers single-handed. I was thinking, geez, only three jeeps full of armed soldiers? Not a huge challenge for Jack Bauer. If watching Kiefer Sutherland kick butt is why you watch 24, you certainly got it here. After Jack was captured and subjected to a brief bout of burning machete ear torture (undoubtedly creating a new problem for Day 7's make-up team), he and his friend Carl ran for a nearby city and the American Embassy with the fourteen boys, trying to get them to safety.

Redemption was filmed in South Africa and the mountain scenery, the golden quality of the light, was a whole new milieu for 24. So were the terrible scenes of U.S. Embassy rep Frank Tramell turning away desperate refugees begging for asylum, including one woman with a baby who even offered to have sex with him.

The personal

Somehow, a subpoena has been following Jack Bauer around the world, and it concerned charges against Jack for torture of prisoners at CTU. There was no question that Jack was running from his past and was tired of the fight, that in the past he was basically forced to continue fighting, a bit like the boys in this particular story.


The Redemption part wasn't so much about Jack, though; it was about his friend Carl Benton, who in an obvious parallel to Jack and his subpoena, once tortured the wrong man to death in Beirut. Played perfectly by Robert Carlyle, Benton had found a way to live with the terrible things he'd done in Special Forces by running the mission school. Benton also found a way to make his death mean something when he stepped on a mine while rescuing lead child character Willie (Siybulela Ramba) – not a coincidence, plot-wise, that the boys, if taken, would have been clearing minefields. When Jack was unable to defuse the mine, Benton insisted that Jack leave him behind and take the boys to the Embassy, saying, "It's all right. I can die like this."

And he did. Benton disguised the mine under his foot with dirt and pretended to surrender to Dubaku, even managing to keep his balance when Dubaku shot him twice, as he tried to hold on long enough for the bad guys to get close enough so that he could take them with him when the mine went off. He nearly succeeded, too, although the last shot of that scene showed Dubaku on the ground, opening his eyes.

In the end, Jack was forced to surrender himself to Tramell in order to save the boys, and was last seen on a helicopter in the custody of U.S. soldiers.

The political

As the action was happening in Sangala, President-Elect Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) prepared for her inauguration to take place that very day. Since 24 takes place in the near future, that day was supposed to be – are you ready for this? – January 20, 2017, the day our first female president should have been inaugurated. Yes, I am still bitter.


There were some effective scenes with Taylor and outgoing president Noah Daniels (Powers Boothe), as they politely tussled over the fact that Daniels ordered the evacuation in Sangala without consulting her; clearly, he was hiding something. It was also apparent that Daniels was unhappy about losing the election and having difficulty letting go of power.

The DC scenes also introduced Jon Voight as a politically powerful man named Hodges who was secretly supplying weapons to General Juma; Colm Feore as Taylor's husband and Eric Lively as their son Roger; Bob Gunton as Daniels' former Secretary of Defense; and the wonderful Tom Lennox (Peter MacNicol), still Daniels' chief of staff, whom I enjoyed so much in Day 6.

There was also more Day 7 set-up with one of Roger Taylor's friends, Chris Whitley (Kris Lemche), who stumbled over information incriminating his boss, Nichols (Mark Aiken), as well as Hodges. Chris was followed home and then medically tortured and killed by Hodges' henchmen, and the information recovered.

Big bads and casting goodness

There were two notable La Femme Nikita alums in Redemption: Colm Feore, who guest-starred in an important episode called "Hell Hath No Fury," and Kris Lemche, who played an extremely annoying LFN continuing character named Hillinger. Redemption also featured Tony Todd in a brief performance as General Juma, and much-better-known-now character actor Sebastian Roche as one of Whitley's killers.

Bits:

— Jack told Willie that he'd been in India the year before, and that he'd been traveling the world for awhile.

— The gun battle in the street between Jack and the pursuing soldiers in the city streets featured an ironic sign that said, "Police Help Line."

— What happened to Wayne Palmer? Did he die? Is he still in a coma? Since Taylor defeated Daniels, I assume that makes her a Republican.

— There was some obvious product placement. I'm going to ignore it.

Jack killed 14 people in 24: Redemption, mostly during the People's Army attack on the school. That's less than usual, but hey, it was a lot shorter than a regular season.

24: Redemption aired in 2008 and ran for two hours, "3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m." As mentioned above, it took place on January 20, 2017, three and a half years after Day 6.

— The final moments of Redemption were of the clock ticking silently. I assume that was for the refugees. Or maybe Carl Benton. Probably both.

Quotes:

Willie: "When are you going home?"
Jack: "I'm not going home."

Daniels: "I appreciate your idealism."
Taylor: "I can't say the same for your cynicism."

To conclude

Better than I remembered. Three out of four ticking digital clocks,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Regarding the subtitle Redemption - that's the title that appeared on the DVD release when it came out in 2008. I'm not sure if it appeared anywhere else earlier.

Billie Doux said...

Thanks, Jim. They probably realized at that point that the thing needed a distinct title.