24: Legacy review: 'I knew it!' shouts Donald Trump. 'Get me Eric Carter on the phone'
Missed the return of the ludicrous real-time, terrorist-chasing torture romp? Here is Patrick Freyne’s breathless minute-by-minute recap
On the clock: Corey Hawkins as terrorist hunter Eric Carter in 24: Legacy
24 is back, or 24: Legacy aka Provisional 24 as it’s been renamed, in order to distinguish it from the original series 24: The Worker’s Party.
Of course, these days the now Jack Bauer-free, in-real-time torture romp is less a TV drama and more a blueprint for future foreign policy. The new series opens with some terrorists mutilating an army ranger as a sort of aperitif.
We know he’s an army ranger because he has the word “ranger” tattooed on his arm. The terrorists don’t need the word “terrorist” tattooed on their arms because they’re, you know, immigrants.
We cut to our new hero Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) who is having a chat with his wife Nicole about the fact they’re on the witness-protection programme and that they’re having marital problems due to the demands of his former job – killing terrorists, specifically terrorist leader Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid. I learn a lot about them in these few moments.
Eric gets a call from his drug-addled friend Ben (Charlie Hofheimer) who has a madman beard (see byline photo for an example) and says things like “Don’t tell me to calm down!” which is, of course, something sane people yell. Terrorists are coming, says Ben.
“Terrorists!” says Eric. “I hate terrorists. They’re always messing things up and they hate America.” (I might be misremembering some of the dialogue here).
So terrorists come and tie Eric to a chair and plan to torture him to find Bin-Khalid’s secret box of mystery, which is a thing they want. “That’s right, we killed your friends and their wives and their children,” says a terrorist, lest we think they’re the kind of terrorists who do terrorism due to poverty or because they’re misunderstood. No these are bad terrorists. So Eric and Nicole kill them with guns.
America: 3. Terrorists: 0 (well, “0” if you don’t include the dead army rangers, which we don’t, because we don’t like LOSERS. We prefer army rangers who don’t get killed, like Eric.)
“That’s right, we killed your friends and their wives and their children,” says a terrorist, lest we think they’re the kind of terrorists who do terrorism due to poverty or because they’re misunderstood.
We cut to that digital clock ticking down the 24 hours to the finale and the screen splits into several screens and that familiar pulsing music kicks in. God modern life is so stressful, we think, as Eric and Nicole speed off in their four-wheel drive, possibly to the shops.
The one Trump trusts
Next we meet Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) the outgoing head of CTU (the only intelligence agency Donald Trump trusts) who is leaving to focus on her husband Jimmy Smits’s presidential campaign. Jimmy Smits is always campaigning for electoral office somewhere on television so this shouldn’t be that big a deal, but we get the impression Rebecca is less supportive than his other television families.
Indeed, the underlying theme of 24, when it comes down to it, is work-life balance. Each character is a workaholic who is under pressure to spend more time with their child or wife or presidential-candidate husband. Well, they can’t, say the show’s writers, because of terrorism. Loved ones who ask you to spend more time at home basically hate freedom and want the terrorists to win.
So Rebecca abandons Jimmy Smits and goes to spy headquarters to brief her replacement, Keith (Teddy Sears). “Keith” is a total “guy from work” name and you can tell that he is a real bore about civil liberties and data protection and keeping the kitchenette clean, and wouldn’t understand the crazy things that Rebecca had to do to keep America safe. On cue, Eric rings Rebecca and tells her about the terrorist plot to destroy America. “Someone in the government is working with the terrorists,” he says.
Rebecca does what any of us would do when faced with such a workplace disagreement: she tazes him into unconsciousness
“It’s probably Keith,” thinks Rebecca and she vows not to tell him anything. Eric says that Ben probably has Bin-Khalid’s secret box of mystery, so Rebecca gets some random tech guy to follow Ben with hacked security cameras while saying things like “We need geospatial trackers on a burner phone”.
Every time someone says something like this on 24, I shout “America!” and punch the air.
So Keith discovers that Rebecca has been spying on American citizens without authorisation and Rebecca does what any of us would do when faced with such a workplace disagreement: she tazes him into unconsciousness. “In your face, Keith!” I shout. Although knowing Keith, he’ll probably get human resources involved. We all hate Keith.
Other things happen. We see that American children are being corrupted by the terrorist menace. A boy tells his teacher that he’s worried his Chechnyan girlfriend is a terrorist. Good call, kid – send her back to Chechnovia!
Meanwhile Eric drops Nicole off with his brother Isaac, a drug lord in a bad neighbourhood, because that’s a sensitive back story for a black army ranger. After Eric leaves, Nicole opens up to Isaac. She tells him that having seen Eric shoot terrorists to death, she realises that he misses his old job and that “the life he could have with me would never be enough for him”.
This is both an important step forward in her thinking about their relationship and an interesting takeaway from watching her husband kill people. Isaac doesn’t say: “The terrorist plot to destroy America isn’t actually about you, Nicole.”
Soon Eric is on the trail of Ben. He’s very sprightly. He doesn’t stop running to say, “Ooh me knees are giving me gyp” as elderly Jack Bauer was wont to do in his latter days fighting terror. I do think they missed a trick not having a cameo from Bauer here. Just a small one would be nice; one where Eric rushes by and Bauer says something like, “Terrorists huh?” and then turns to the camera and says: “I’m too old for this shit.” I think that would be pretty cool.
Eric finds Ben at some sort of anonymous industrial space and he does indeed have Bin-Khalid’s secret box of mystery. However, because Ben is an idiot, he hasn’t realised that there’s a fake bottom on the box, which conceals a USB key. Eric plugs the USB key into his phone to find a list of terrorist sleeper cells around the US.
“I knew it!” shouts Donald Trump, who is watching 24: Legacy instead of going to a security briefing. “Get me Eric Carter on the phone. I want him to replace General Flynn on my national security team.”
The terrorists arrive and start shooting at Eric and Ben, who run through a building site. None of the builders calls the police, probably because they’re so used to terroristic gunplay (thanks Obama). Eric shoots a big concrete pipe down from a crane and it rolls over the terrorists. “Ay caramba!” say the terrorists (I may be getting my racist stereotypes wrong). Eric kills all the terrorists.
America: 6 (and a half, if you include Keith). Terrorists: 0.
But, oh no, Eric has left the USB key with Ben, who decides he hates America and runs away. Cut to exciting music and lots of split-screen images of the people we’ve met, as if to say, “We’ll be seeing a lot of these characters over the next exciting 24 hours.”
The last thing we see is Eric running frantically in a little split-screen square that shrinks and shrinks, not as a metaphor for waning American influence in the world, but in a cool way. Like he’s a winner.