It’s been a “it’s probably going to happen” rumor for a while now, but according to Kiefer Sutherland, a 24 movie is going forward at last, and it’s set to start shooting this April.
For 24 fans, this is generally cause for celebration, as the series finale was left a cliffhanger for the sole purpose of such a movie existing, and now that it does, it’s something to cheer about.
But in eight seasons, 24 has done plenty of bad things to offset the good, and it’s going to need to be very careful in order to craft an effective film here.
Make Real Time Work
I was initially tempted to tell the series to toss its signature real-time format for a film variant, as it’s too restrictive. Very, very few movies actually take place in real time, and that means you have to cram a lot into those two hours, without it seeming ridiculous.
24 has done it before however, and I appreciated the movie-length episode 24: Redemption, that had Jack helping out a friend in Africa against some armed rebels.
What real time means for the plot is that the film, despite being on the big screen, is probably going to have to be smaller in scale than the show. What I mean is that when you have 24 full hours to set up a plotline, some great nuclear terrorist strike or biological attack seems plausible, but if you only have two? Not as much.
Either the film is going to have to drop Jack at the tail end of some master plan, and then explain it to us once we’re already in the middle of the action, or it’s going to have to make the crises much smaller, which brings me to my next point.
Look to Die Hard
The original Die Hard wasn’t in real time, but with a few tweaks, it very well could have been, and it’s exactly the type of adventure Jack Bauer would be suited for. A theft and hostage situation might not bring the world to the brink of collapse, but it made for a compelling plotline nonetheless.
Putting Jack in a similar situation would allow him to be the badass we know him to be, but also make the shorter real-time format make sense. If we’re only working with two hours here, there’s going to be little time spent in Washington DC I would hope, which is something that normally takes up about a third of the season.
But as the film is supposed to be “continuation of the show” as Kiefer says, I’m worried they might get in over their heads, trying to wrap up loose plotlines with Jack’s family and Tony Almeida. Unless they come up with concise ways to do that, it’s going to muddy up what could be an effective story.
This is the Jack Show
For as much as I love all 24’s sub characters, the film needs to remember that the reason people love 24 is Jack Bauer. Past seasons got off track and almost everyone had some useless subplot meant to fill time when Jack did other things. There won’t be any time for that in a movie, and the show is really going to need to trim the fat.
Fortunately for the show, practically every recurring cast member besides Jack is now dead or crazy, as demonstrated in the picture above. The only exception would be Chloe O’Brien, who used her presumably used her abrasive personality to ward off death all these years, and there is room for her to return, provided she continues to exist a support character only.
A strong villain is a must, and if it ended up being Tony Almeida somehow, I think they could theoretically make that work. Introducing someone entirely new would be a gamble, and I’d worry about how they’d differentiate them from previous bad guys who have ranged from warlords to Presidents.
Out with a Bang
Please don’t try to turn this into an indefinitely long movie series. We already have Jason Bourne, James Bond and Ethan Hunt. Though it may sound nice in theory to have Jack live on in adventure after adventure, we’ve already had eight seasons of that, and with 24 hours per season, he’s had far more adventures than any other movie action hero in history.
What Jack Bauer needs that was desperately missing from the series finale of the show is closure. I forgave them that when the show ended and Jack just sort of wandered off, as I knew a movie was supposed to be coming, but now that it’s here, the show owes us, and the character, a hard ending.
This might mean Jack relaxing on a beach somewhere, but more than likely, and the ending I’d want to see, is Jack finally making the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and being hailed publicly as a hero for doing so. It’s what eight seasons of saving the world has led up to, and he can’t save both the earth AND himself every time. Finally, he’s going to have to make that tough call, and there won’t be a way to get out of it for once. I love the character, but I want him dead to bring closure to his decade long saga.