24 – Sixth Season DVDs 1-3 – Business As Usual

Country: United States
Genre: Action
Director: Various
Year: 2007

Rating: ★★★★½

TRASH CINEMA ESSENTIAL MOVIE

Season Six of 24 is business as usual, but that’s not a bad thing. The production values continue to be sky high, the acting continues to be terrific, and the writers continue to find new challenges for Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland).

Poor Jack has just been released from a Chinese prison after 20 months of straight torture by the sadistic Cheng (the priceless character actor Tzi Ma). Without even time to overcome his jetlag, he’s forced back into operation. The only problem is that Jack is a basket case. For the first time in the series, he looks utterly lost.

Well, it’s about time. It’s all very well that Jack is an indestructable bulldog, but even considering that he’s a fictional character, it was getting pretty hard to swallow that he exhibited so little psychological trauma after all he’s been through.

But there are more surprises. We finally get to meet his family, and so we get insight into how Jack became Jack.

Oh, yeah — some Arab extremists have been going around blowing up targets around the country and, to make matters worse, it looks like they might have gotten hold of a nuclear weapon. One of the terrorists, Fayed (Adoni Maropis), is willing to betray the ringleader, Assad (Alexander Siddig). His price? Twenty five million dollars and Jack Bauer handed over on a plate (if seems Bauer tortured Fayed’s brother to death — big surprise).

Before I go any further, I have to address the critical carping about 24′s lack of realism. Yeah? Compared to what? Remember, 24 is a neocon fantasy to start with. On the show, the terrorists are 1000 times smarter than in real life. The same goes for the geniuses at CTU. Torture works 99.9999% of the time. In the world of 24, terrorists have executed successful attacks on the United States dozens of times. I could go on, but I won’t bore you.

The real question is, “Given the premise of 24, is it realistic or not?” Well, the people on the show act in character most of the time, and the operational details, in and of themselves are fairly convincing.

I think what critics are reacting to is the accumulation of melodrama: Jack’s numerous brushes with death, attacks on the presidency from within and without, etc., etc. Well, you know what? These critics need to get a grip. All of that comes with the territory.

That said, President Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) makes some pretty questionable decisions early on in the season, such as negotating with terrorist Abu Fayed.

So, is the sixth season of 24 worth checking out?

In a word, yes. The routine machinations are fun in the usual ways, and there are some compelling new characters: Tom Lennox (Peter MacNicol), who never heard of a breach of civil liberties he didn’t like; Jack’s dad (James Cromwell); neocon Vice President Noah Daniels (Powers Booth) and the usual hateful villains like Fayed and Gradenko (Rade Serbedzija).

But ultimately, what makes the first half of Season Six special is our peek into Jack’s character and what shaped it.

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