24 Redemption’s title is meant to refer to Jack Bauer’s need for redemption, but after a missing season on top previous seasons that that have suffered from aimless drifting, it’s the series itself that needs redemption. Unfortunately 24 Redemption doesn’t do much to redeem the series, it does offer Jack Bauer redemption but Jack Bauer, unlike Kiefer Sutherland, doesn’t actually need it.
24 usually takes place in Los Angeles, but for 24 Redemption it instead does the trendy LA thing by heading to Africa where its title character pretends to care about the suffering of children in a fictional African country. Which is of course the ultimate trendy celebrity thing to do. Jack Bauer is at his best in full on action mode, but 24 Redemption starts slowly. Having learned nothing from failed Hollywood “White Action Hero Rescues Africa” movies such as Tears of the Sun or Blood Diamond, 24 inflicts the usual cliches on us.
Jack Bauer, as is traditional after a season, is a shattered man who has taken refuge, this time at a school run by a Special Forces buddy, the oddly Scottish, and generally wasted, Robert Carlyle. Naturally Jack bonds with a young boy. Naturally there’s a good deal of preaching about the problem of child soldiers. By the time the bad guys come on the scene, Jack crustily snaps into action mode, but winds up captured and tortured, and finally carries out a long quest to reach the US embassy with the kids, where he’s taken into custody to appear at a Senate hearing on torture.
In the background, the Hillary Clinton stand in is being sworn in as President, and oddly manages to be more irritating than the real thing. Her smug son has a junkie broker friend who’s involved in money laundering on behalf of terrorists, a plot being masterminded by the sort of disposable evil rich businessman who appears in every episode, and in this case is played by Jon Voight.
24 Redemption is mostly unnecessary, and while it has a handful of good characters and performances, notably Gil Bellows as an unsympathetic US embassy staffer, a corrupt and cowardly UN official and Tony Todd being dragged in to play General Juma, mostly it fails at doing what 24 does best, sticking Jack Bauer in the middle of a fast moving confusing crisis with a ticking clock running all the while.