TV Review: 24: Redemption

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In nearly every respect, "24: Redemption" makes perfect sense, a brilliant idea that will extend the life of an important franchise even as it pumps new vigor into the Fox series.

As anyone remotely familiar with this fast-paced, well-plotted, smartly cast series knows, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is practically invincible. Thus far, the only peril he has not been able to surmount was the WGA strike, which blew the 2008 season out of the primetime water. Instead, a new season will begin in January with a reluctant Bauer being called to account for his tough actions before a legislative committee in Washington.

But how did he get there? What will he tell them? Who even knew he owned a suit and tie? For answers to those questions, executive producer Howard Gordon penned a two-hour movie, "24: Redemption", which serves as a bridge between seasons as well as a reminder that "24" still is the place to go for emotional thrills and heartpounding peril.
Just as "24" takes place during a 24-hour period (assuming your watch is powered by springs and maybe a rubber band or two), the movie occurs during two hours. Jack finds himself in a fictional African country facing a real problem -- a leader forcibly conscripting children into a rebel army. As the figurative noose tightens, it's up to Jack to save a small school of refugee kids.

Meanwhile, on a larger international stage, creepy villain Mr. Hodges (Jon Voight) and his evil henchmen, including some in high places, are discreetly arming the rebel leader to continue the genocide taking place in the region.

The location is tropical, the theme is topical and the action is atypical. Jack has to work without just about all the high-tech devices that have helped him crush the terrorists and psychopaths in previous seasons.

Still, one question keeps nagging at me. If a burning hot machete applied to the side of his face won't make Jack tell where the African kids are hiding, how in the world did the legislative committee compel him to testify when he was similarly opposed to talking? Is torture by hot air more effective than torture by hot metal?

PRODUCTION: Imagine Television and Teakwood Lane Prods. in association with 20th Century Fox Television.
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Cherry Jones, Bob Gunton, Colm Feore, Powers Boothe, Jon Voight, Robert Carlyle, Peter MacNicol, Gil Bellows, Hakeem Kae-Kazim.
Executive producers: David Fury, Manny Coto, Kiefer Sutherland, Jon Cassar, Evan Katz, Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer, Paul Gadd.
Co-executive producers: Juan Carlos Coto, Brannon Braga, Alex Gansa, Brad Turner, Stephen Kronish.
Producer: Michael Klick.
Director: Jon Cassar.
Writer: Howard Gordon.
Creators: Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran.
Director of photography: Rodney Charters.
Production designers: Joseph Hodges, Henri Du Rand.
Editor: Scott Powell. Music: Sean Callery.
Set designer: Cloudia Rebar.
Casting: Debi Manwiller, Peggy Kennedy.
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