For eight seasons, a TV movie and one ‘limited event’ series, Jack Bauer – in the increasingly grizzled form of Kiefer Sutherland – was a one-man anti-terrorist army. Over the course of the series he dispatched hundreds of bad guys, tortured terrorists, colleagues and family members alike, brought down corrupt presidents (where are you when we need you?) shot his boss in the head, and saved Los Angeles from being nuked. Twice. (Those pesky terrorists got it the third time, but no one’s perfect).
At the conclusion of the last series, the London-set Live Another Day, Jack was carted off to a Russian prison, possibly permanently. And, with Sutherland electing not to return, the powers-that-be have decided to start over, replacing him with a new character: former army ranger Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins).
When we first meet him, Carter and his wife Nicole (Anna Diop) are living in witness protection – Carter’s former unit having undertaken a successful mission to kill a Bin Laden-style terrorist leader a few years previously.
This being 24, their quiet life lasts approximately five minutes, as terrorists track down and start killing his former colleagues. Are they after revenge or something else? Who revealed their whereabouts to the bad guys? And will Carter get to mutter the immortal “Dammit, Chloe” at any point? (Spoiler, he doesn’t, the wonderful Chloe is amongst the many 24 regulars not returning here).
From then on, it’s essentially business as usual, with Carter being dragged into a conspiracy which may or may not involve his drug dealer brother (Ashley Thomas), his former boss (Miranda Otto), her presidential candidate husband (Jimmy Smits), and various members of CTU (that’s the Counter Terrorist Unit for the uninitiated).
And that’s where we hit Legacy’s big problem. The sense of familiarity here is both an asset and its greatest weakness. The casting of a new lead was the show’s chance to shake up the formula; instead they’ve fallen into it. We’ve seen all this before, and better. The show’s done Islamic terrorists many times (too many in fact), we’ve had sleeper cells, moles in CTU and surprise reveals aplenty – a key one here is even lifted practically verbatim from day one.
Typical of the show’s problems is its treatment of the one returning character. When we last saw Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) at the end of day seven, the former CTU agent was on his way to jail, having turned bad and killed a hell of a lot of people. Here he’s back and operating as a mercenary, running shady black ops, with next to no mention as to how he’s free again. Not only is it doing a disservice to a fan-favourite character, but it feels like producers are essentially playing 24 bingo – throwing in all the elements fans like and hoping it gels.
As anyone who saw him as Dr. Dre in the excellent Straight Outta Compton will attest, Corey Hawkins is a force to be reckoned with, and he does a great job at making Carter a relatable character in amongst the constant gun fights and explosions. But, ultimately, Carter’s no Jack. Kiefer Sutherland’s grounded performance was what enabled us to buy into the increasingly ridiculous plotlines. And with Carter and Legacy not returning for a second season (Fox have cancelled it), you suspect they’re currently offering Sutherland pretty much anything he wants to strap on his Jack pack once more (not a euphemism by the way).
24 fans know that the quality has always been patchy. For every season that hits the heights of day three or five, there’s a day four of six lurking round the corner. Legacy unfortunately falls into the latter category. Ironically, for a numerically-titled show, Legacy is very much 24 by the numbers. Dammit.
Special features: Deleted scenes / 24: The legacy lives on featurette
24: LEGACY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / WRITTEN BY: MANNY COTO & EVAN KATZ (CREATORS) / STARRING: COREY HAWKINS, MIRANDA OTTO, ANNA DIOP / RELEASE DATE: 24TH JULY