24: Redemption was a welcome arrival for fans of the series. With the writers’ strike stonewalling production on the shows seventh season, it was a lonely year without Jack Bauer taking down terrorists on our TV screens. Although the two-hour event didn’t toss us into the usual scenario that 24 painted, it did take the opportunity to not only shine light on the tragedies going on in Africa, but to also set fans up for the seventh season, which finds the seventh seasons presidential administration dealing with African conflicts.
24: Redemption is the unprecedented feature-length event from television’s most provocative and suspenseful series. After sacrificing everything for his country, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) stands to lose the only thing he has left – his freedom. Wanted by the U.S. government and working as a missionary in Africa, Bauer is called upon to stop a ruthless warlord from drafting innocent children into his murderous militia. But first, Bauer must confront his own torturous past and face an impossible decision that will change his life forever.
From the trailers and promos going around for this event, I knew we weren’t going to get our usual 24 fair and although I fully expected it to not be as pulse-pounding as the television series, I still managed to be a tad bit disappointed by the special. During the special I realized I was genuinely becoming bored with the events happening on screen, simply because it was a lot of set-up with little pay off, which we likely won’t see the results of until the seventh season starts. Of course it was still 24 so for that reason alone I was entertained, but it really was a movie made up more of exposition and character development than it was pure action or adrenaline, although there was some of that as well.
While the Jack Bauer auction sequences were awesome as always, the film was hindered by a few things that made it less than believable for me. It wasn’t anything that had to do with the setting of the film or any kind of shock felt by the visuals of the child soldiers (I think I had the shock drained out of me from that after seeing Lord of War and Blood Diamond), but more what just felt like rather shoddy writing to me. The series has done some rather hokey and unbelievable things in the past (see season 4’s nuclear power plant system control) but the whole scenario with Carl Benton (Robert Carlyle) stepping on the land mine and Jack not being able to deactivate it seemed like a load of crock to me. Ok, pressure sensitive I get, but how did he manage to step on the mine in the first place? He clearly saw the prongs jutting up out of the ground since he pushed the young boy out of the way, yet he somehow steps on the activator himself? It seemed like a sloppy and needless way to get rid of the character. Granted how he eventually goes out is quite heroic, but for a soldier that Jack supposedly fought with, I don’t see how one could be quite so sloppy.
Aside from a few unbelievable aspects and a whole lot of talking and setting up for season seven, this two-hour special did little to refuel my interest in 24. Not that it’s really died any; I’m the kind of guy who has a few Jack Bauer t-shirts, wall-calendars and action figures of the man, so it’s not like I will ever be disinterested in the series…I just really was quite bored watching this movie. The second time around (i.e., the extended cut) was a bit better, but I still feel that it was conceived to be a bridge to the seventh season and nothing more. I get and fully appreciate that it also increased awareness of the atrocities going on in Africa, but to me it just didn’t do much for the die-hard 24 fans. If it’s any indication based on the people I’ve talked to who are also avid 24 viewers, they weren’t too impressed with it either.
It was interesting to see Jack connect to humanity again and quite frankly it wasn’t a terrible film, it just wasn’t really up to 24 snuff. I don’t see myself watching this too many more times, but if you’re a fan of the series it’s required viewing simply because of Bauer and how it will likely ease us into the seventh season a bit more smoothly. I wouldn’t bother with renting or buying the DVD release just for the film, as you can watch it for free on Fox’s website currently. If you enjoy it, then go out and pick up the release—but it certainly isn’t a film that I would really recommend to people if they were just getting into the series. As I stated before, I’m an avid 24 fan and have watched almost all of the seasons more than two or three times (season six is the only one I’ve yet to rewatch again in full), so I’m probably a bit more harsh on the show than most individuals would be, but I can only call them as I see them.
Fox released the two-disc DVD of the film (there was also a three-disc edition that came with a digital copy, apparently, but I’m not sure if that actually went out to many retailers as Amazon doesn’t even stock it) a few days after it originally aired and I have to say it is quite the remarkable set. I expected to be disappointed, but the extras are really quite enlightening, in more ways than one. The set itself arrives in a standard two-disc case with an advertisement for other Fox products. Menus are motionless and easy to navigate.
The transfers for both the broadcast and extended versions of the film are quite nice, this considering I watched it originally in its original 720p broadcast. Detail is high and the color palette used for the film really comes through with remarkable clarity. I’m kind of surprised they didn’t release a Blu-ray version of this film, but perhaps they’re going to make a big fancy Blu-ray box set down the line. Or so I can dream, anyway. The audio for both films comes in the English DD5.1 variety and it does a nice job of presenting the (minimal) action on screen as well as allowing the dialogue to come through clean and clear. Oddly there are no alternate audio tracks and only Spanish subtitles. Quite strange.
The extras are all presented on the second disc, as the first disc is dedicated solely to the broadcast version. Yes, the shortest version of the film gets its own disc and I kind of question why it was even included to begin with, as there is absolutely nothing else on this first disc except the film. Seems like a bit of a waste, but I guess they had a bunch of single layer discs lying around and they needed to use them up.
On disc two we have the extended cut of the film, with over ten minutes of new footage. Honestly the new footage isn’t all that astonishing and I could have lived without seeing it (which could kind of be said about the entire special, to be honest), but the included Commentary by Executive Producer/Director Jon Cassar and Executive Producers Howard Gordon and Kiefer Sutherland is really what is worth checking out on this release. The trio covers everything from how the film came to be, the shooting location and the difficulties that came with it and the actors chosen for the film—and that’s just within the first twelve minutes of the commentary. The entire track is highly informative and one I highly recommend to fans of the series.
Also highly recommended are the featurettes on here. The first is The Making of 24: Redemption (21:56), a full piece that interviews cast and crew with a lot of on-location footage provided (in fact it may be made up entirely of on-location footage). Another great piece and one well worth watching is the Blood Never Dry: Child Soldiers in Africa (15:03) segment. This is quite an emotional piece as cast members of 24 read letters from child soldiers who recount their lives in war. As previously stated I saw all of this in a few feature films already, but actually hearing first hand recounts and input from historians just makes it all the more real and disturbing to hear about. Also from the commentary track on the extended version I found that a new statistic was discovered while making the film, in which 1 in 10 soldiers around the world are children. An absolutely shocking statistic.
Next up is a quick 24 Season Six in Four Minutes (4:50) piece that covers the entire sixth season in quick recap form (which is good, cause it’s been so long since I’ve seen it and it wasn’t a particularly amazing season anyway). Also included is a 24 Season Seven Sneak Peek (17:02), which is the first seventeen minutes of the season premiere. I refuse to watch this as I’ll just be teased relentlessly and want more, so I’ll save myself from the agony…for now.
Overall I’m more impressed with the DVD release than I am the film. As a 24 fan I Recommend this one based on the extras alone and watching the extended cut with the commentary did make me appreciate it a bit more, although I still feel it was a bit of a mediocre outing. Still, this will just better prepare them when the time comes for the actual theatrical 24 film. Whenever the hell that happens, at least.
24: Redemption is now available on DVD.