Shortened to half its usual season length and relocated to London, 24: Live Another Day has given the 24 TV series a fresh breath of life after its dazzling first few seasons faded into familiar, unexceptional repetition.
Being a Londoner, it was also enjoyable to see some of the standard clichés of TV drama – the New York taxis, the steam coming up from the road – replaced with London traditions instead – the black cabs, the orange plastic road works barriers and even Stephen Fry as the British Prime Minister.
We get that glance from Kiefer Sutherland in spades during this series, and it also packs in a large number of contemporary references, with controversial drone strikes and secret government documents being leaked online.
As ever, the main problem the series faces is that you know the apparent imminent resolution of the plot on multiple occasions are all going to turn out to be wrong, at least until you’re in the last few minutes of the final episode, and so it’s hard to maintain the real tension when the viewer knows it’s all a dummy.
Bht the series does well to add in some extra twists to add to the tension and the apparent playing out of the plot three-quarters of the way through the series is very well done, setting up the final three episodes for some real uncertainty over what is going to happen.
The only real let down are the final scenes where the futures of the characters are wrapped up as we’ve seen similar events so many times before in earlier 24 series (and also known how often the apparent resolutions have subsequently been undone). That said, the acting in the final scene with a US coffin is touchingly done (to avoid spoilers, I won’t name the actor as it is someone whose survival is uncertain at earlier points).
The extras on the final DVD are pretty thin though as (almost) ever the deleted scenes show that when it came to editing, scenes that added to the emotional depth of characters were usually first in line for the axe.
All in all, good fun if also a reminder that the overall format had pretty much run out of steam.
If you like this, you might also be interested in No Way Out, a great 1980s thriller.
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