24: Redemption – Child Soldiers Reduced To A Plot Point

Country: United States
Genre: Action
Director: Jon Cassar
Year: 2008

Rating: ★★★★☆

TRASH CINEMA HIGHLY RECOMMENDED MOVIE

Considering that 24: Redemption was designed as a placeholder to bridge the sixth and seventh seasons of 24, rather than as a standalone feature, it holds together pretty darned well.

The producers of 24 are very, very good at what they do.

24: Redemption takes place in the fictional country of Sangkala, Africa, but it feels pretty real. The producers, in bold, quick strokes, manage to create a lot of production value. I’m guessing that a 2nd unit crew actually shot on location for a day or so, and the rest of “Sangkala” was created in and around the usual locations in Southern California, but the only reason I think so was because I was looking really closely, which most viewers won’t. Director Jon Cassar uses the by now established convention of depicting Africa by filtering the colors so the reds are rich and dark. The strategy manages to disguise woods that appear suspiciously similar to the ones where Jack’s wife and daughter were being held in Season 1. The Washington, D.C. scenes are shot in a relatively bluish light.

As usual, the acting is excellent, although I will admit that Kiefer Sutherland’s acting tics are becoming so familiar that they’re unintentionally funny, which paradoxically only increases my affection for him and the character he’s playing. Other standouts include Tony Todd, oozing evil as the leader of the rebel forces attempting to stage a coup on Sangkala; Jon Voight doing his usual reptilian government scumbag schtick; Robert Carslyle as Bauer’s lovable Special Forces buddy, now doing charity work in Sangkala; Gil Bellows as a really annoying bureaucrat at the American Embassy in Sangkala; Powers Booth as a chastened lame duck president; Cherry Jones as the first female POTUS — she reminds me of Hillary; and the great character actor Colm Feore, uncharacteristically subdued as the First Man.

The problem, such as it is, is the plot, a fairly routine matter by the standards of the series. The Sangkalan rebels need to conscript an army in a hurry, and the most convenient source of soldiers are the children. Screenwriter Howard Gordon disposes of the necessary exposition with maximum efficiency, staging a kidnapping of a group of children, who are given a “patriotic” speech by their kidnappers about becoming men, which is climaxed by forcing one of the children to perform a rather heinous act.

Good old Jack ends up having to play Pied Piper, leading some children to the American Embassy, which is being evacuated. Jack might well need to pull some strings to get the children on the last helicopter out of Sangkala, which might be a challenge because he’s been ducking a subpoena to appear before the Senate to answer allegations of illegal torture for over a year.

There’s some decent action and suspense, a little torture, and some fairly convincing local color, but let’s face it. 24: Redemption doesn’t really amount to much more than a prelude to Season 7.

For fans of the series, I definitely recommend 24: Redemption. It’s very good at what it does, and it’s a necessary part of the story. For more casual viewers, start with Season 1 and work your way through, stopping if the torture becomes too intense. That was a joke. You can laugh now.

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