The 24 Movie: How To Keep It Ticking!
In just a few short weeks one of the best drama series on TV will be no more. Yep, there’ll be no more Chloe. No more CTU. No more moles and double crosses. And no more ticking clocks. Time will finally have run out on Jack Bauer.
Now to say that I’m a fan of 24 is an understatement. I really, truly believe the show has been one of the best drama series to ever hit our screens. In my all-time list of favorite shows 24 is easily Top 10 and clearly I’m not alone. Even though 24 has slumped a little in viewership this season the ratings are still strong (generally 9 million per episode) and the series has sustained widespread international appeal. Plus creatively the show is still at the top of its game.
Now of course there have been a few speed bumps along the way. No show is perfect. But in my opinion even slightly below par 24 is better than 99% of the shows out there. And when 24 is at its best nothing even comes close. No other show on TV has ever had me so tense, thrilled and generally awed as 24. Whether it was Nina’s duplicity, the edge of your seat terrorist threats, the glorious conniving of Sherry Palmer or the feuding first family, Martha and Charles Logan – 24 has been a truly amazing ride.
And though I’m sad to see 24, the TV series, coming to an end – I’m excited by the possibilities of the recently announced 24 movie series. Done right the show could find a whole new life in the multiplex, establishing Jack Bauer as the new James Bond or Jason Bourne. But if done wrong – well let’s just look at any odd numbered Star Trek movie, The X Files or Charlie’s Angels 2. Exactly.
So in order to make sure one of my all time favorite series doesn’t find itself clocked out before it’s time – here are my 7 suggestions for 24: The Movie…
Timing Is Everything: What’s the single best thing about 24 the TV show? The ticking clock. As much as I love Jack Bauer, CTU and the rest of the show’s fun and games, that luminous, never ending clock, constantly cross cutting between numerous narrative threads is the show’s absolute masterstroke. Any TV show is made more tense when there’s a ticking clock (just look how many reality and makeover shows employ the same device) – but nobody uses a tick tick tick better than 24.
With this in mind I’m a little concerned by Kiefer Sutherland’s recent comments that the 24 movie won’t be repeating the same conceit of the series e.g. a 2 hour movie comprising 2 hours of actual real time. Instead the cinematic 24 will shrink an entire day down to a 2-hour running time. Hmmm…
Now I understand some of the wisdom of this – it’ll allow the cast to travel more so the show doesn’t have to be just based in one city. But since 24 has always employed multiple narrative streams there’s no reason why the show couldn’t be tracking a global threat – with say, Jack in NYC, the president in London and a third storyline happening in Berlin, all facing a common threat. I’m not really sure what changing one of the key elements of the show achieves – and I worry it makes the movie not all that dissimilar from other action movies like Taken, or a Bourne movie. I’m sure gonna miss that ticking clock. Is it too late to ask for a rethink on this one perhaps?
Supporting Players. Unfortunately now that Renee Walker is deceased, Tony went over to the dark side and Michelle Dessler and Bill Buchanan blown apart, there’s not many people left on team Jack (I guess you could argue for Freddie Prinze Jr’s Cole Ortiz, but I’m not sure he’s made enough impact to really deserve an upgrade to a movie franchise). But at the end of the day there’s only ONE character who absolutely has to be in the 24 movie – and of course that’s Chloe. A 24 movie without Chloe would be like an Alex O’Loughlin series that doesn’t bomb – it just doesn’t make any sense.
Mary Lynn Rajskub’s grouchy computer geek has become so ingrained in the 24 mythology I would argue she’s the one character the show just couldn’t kill off (and that even includes Jack himself). Chloe’s demise would virtually be the end of the series – and when she has been absent from the show for odd episodes her presence has been badly missed. But so far Chloe still isn’t on board for the movie franchise…
So 24 producers, start opening those checkbooks now and get Chloe signed up pronto! You remember the Chloe-less TV movie, 24: Redemption, which played like a bad Chuck Norris movie with better hairstyles. Please don’t make that mistake again.
No More Moles: We were all stunned when Jack’s ex-girlfriend and colleague Nina Meyers turned out to be the ultimate bad girl in season 1, and murdered his pregnant wife Terri. Sure she outstayed her welcome a tad in seasons 2 and 3 – but then 24 has never been great at letting a good character lie (it was great to see Sherri Palmer and Charles Logan back time and again, but Tony and Wayne Palmer were less welcome returnees)
But now in season 8, with several moles and spies having come and gone both at CTU and in the White House, the surprise is a little less fresh. So when CTU agent Dana Walsh (played by ultimate sci-fi fantasy figure Katee Sackhoff) turned out to be a mole this year the reaction was less surprise, and more an eyeball rolling ‘really?’ This is one plot device it’s definitely time to retire. Thanks!
Give Jack A Break: Jack Bauer has certainly has his fair share of bad luck over the years – the murder of his wife Terri, 20 months in a Chinese prison, Audrey’s mental breakdown, his dad and brother conspiring to kill him and Kim Bauer (I kid – I’m actually one of the few people out there that likes Kim as a character!). But when Renee Walker was murdered a few weeks ago, just moments after having real time sex with Jack, I don’t think I was the only one who thought ‘was that REALLY necessary’.
Aside from the fact that Renee was a darn good character who still had plenty of mileage left in her, it just seemed so cruel to once again deny the poor guy even a flicker of happiness. I understand that Jack’s never going to be exactly jolly – but come on, give the guy a break!
So 24 movie writers, please resist the urge to kill of any more of Jack’s nearest and dearest. The list is running pretty low.
Stop The Torture: And speaking of pain and punishment can we give it a rest on the obligatory 24 torture scenes. They were fresh in Season 1, but 8 years later whenever someone is detained by CTU or Jack is captured by the enemy out come the electric pads / power drills / hypodermic needles and away we go. We’ve seen the plot device just too many times now and it’s reaching DVR fast forward status. Except in a movie theatre we won’t have that luxury.
Speaking of old plot chestnuts – can we lose the instant immunity agreements (which seem to come together in no time at all – I wish the lawyers I knew were that fast!), over-bearing / incompetent CTU bosses and overdrawn White House political play (it’s amazing how the White House staff consists only of a Chief of Staff and a couple of generals – where is everyone else?)
Threat Assessment: It must be really tough to come up with a different threat each season with the potential for mass destruction and also plot potential to sustain several episodes. But after 8 seasons I’m a little weary of nuclear warheads / dirty bombs that always require new parts, complex rewiring and an uncooperative technician who must be blackmailed / tortured into helping the terrorists. And why is it that the bad guys each season not only have a Plan A, but also a Plan B, C and even D should anything go wrong along the way. They’re not organized enough to actually detonate the darn thing – but their back up plans always go off seamlessly!
So for a 24 movie I’d love to see some fresh threats brainstormed by the producers and writers. The problem with threats that are too large and damaging e.g. a nuclear bomb, is that we know the show would never go so far as to detonate a bomb in a crowded space – so some of the tension of the show is lost. But smaller scale threats – like the poisoned hotel in season 3 – really rack up the tension. So think small and make us think the unthinkable might actually happen…
And finally: Based on recent tabloid headlines, maybe someone should tell Kiefer Sutherland to lay of the booze just a little between now and then… Jack’s got a hard enough job on his hands without having to fight off a hangover. Thanks guys.
But what do you think? Are you excited by the 24 movie? What would you like to see happen – and what plotlines and devices should the producers avoid… please weigh in with your comments… the clock is ticking!
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