Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 27, 2010



In this entertaining eighth and final season of Fox's popular series 24, the president of the U.S., Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones), is so bent on bringing a peace plan between the U.S., Russia, and a certain Arab nation to finalization, that she winds up dealing with the devil -- former president Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) -- and compromising her ideals, bringing her into conflict with super-agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). That squinty-faced Chloe O'Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub) has even more to do in this story arc than in previous seasons, taking over the whole CTU [Counter Terrorism Unit] at one point, and continuing to help her friend Jack even after everyone else -- and she -- thinks he's gone crazy, going on a rampage and against the orders of his president.

The thing is that President Taylor has learned that the Russians were behind the assassination of King Hassan, the Arab at the peace summit, but apparently feels that even a treaty signed by faithless connivers still has value, while our Jack thinks it won't be worth the paper it's printed on. He wants everyone to know the truth; Taylor does not.

You've always had to take 24 with a grain of salt. Jack, like every other super-hero -- and he is a super-hero -- has an incredible capacity for survival against overwhelming odds. He's able to pull so much off that it seems unconvincing when he can't save someone or do something. [For instance, surely he could have come up with a way to save the life of a CTU associate who had to sacrifice his life in one season.] Despite the fact that you may agree with some of his actions -- or at least his reasons for taking them -- at times he seems as hypocritically above the law as everyone else. But that's what makes him a maverick.

Of course the gimmick of having the storyline proceed in real time had its drawbacks: there were lulls, many lulls in the action, times when you felt like grabbing a book and reading until things started heating up again. Maybe it wasn't lulls so much as the fact that it just took so darn long to tell the story. Still, 24 managed to keep you in suspense more often than not.

Kiefer Sutherland gave an intense and effective performance on the show. Although stage actress Cherry Jones ["The Heiress; "Doubt"] lacked authority at first, in time she grew into the role and gave a terrific performance that will hopefully garner her an Emmy. Gregory Itzin was splendid, and I admire Mary Lynn Rajskub for remaining true to her character of Chloe, showing us her inner strength while remaining true to her nerdish exterior. There were other swell supporting performances as well. The show was always very well cast.

Whatever happens next in the life of Jack Bauer will reportedly be told on the big screen.

Verdict: Well, I probably won't rush to see 24:The Movie but this was overall a fun ride. ***.

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