“24: Legacy” has no problem with stereotypes. In fact it revels in them.
The sadistic bad guys murdering men, women and children? Of course they’re from the Middle East. Our black hero’s veteran buddy? Of course he’s suffering from PTSD. And when our black hero needs a safe place for his wife to stay? Of course he takes her to his brother’s house. And of course his brother is a major, gun-toting drug dealer.
Obviously the original “24” did more than its share of traveling in stereotypes, and it often turned those stereotypes upside down. But implying that Muslims are violent, vets are scrambled and black people inevitably have some connection to crime seems a little dated in 2017.
Or does it? One imagines the White House tuning in to this show and heads nodding at its accurate portrayal of modern American life.
Oh well, at least this reboot has the same ticking clock efficiency as the original show. Things go bad quickly and progressively, the screen splits regularly and conspiracies abound.
At the center of it all is Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), a former ranger who led a secret mission in Yemen, but is now living an anonymous, secret witness-type life. When he finds that his comrades from that mission are being murdered, he goes on the run and contacts the Counter Terrorism Unit, which has been charged with keeping him safe.
Unfortunately his contact there, Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), is stepping down to help her husband (Jimmy Smits) run for president. Even more unfortunately, the killers may have learned his whereabouts from inside CTU. Oops.
It’s all very breathless, as it should be, and Carter scores points by weaponizing a rather large object at the first episode’s end. But the original “24” was character-driven to a large extent by Keifer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer and elevated even further when Mary Lynn Rajskub’s Chloe O’Brian came along. No such fire or chemistry is evident here.
More problematic, though, may be the building of believably tense situations when the world itself is going through a somewhat unbelievably tense situation right now. Maybe this isn’t the time for stereotypes and gunfire. The original “24” came along at precisely the right time, in late 2001. Maybe this “24” should try again later.
Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.
Following the Super Bowl Sunday night