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Drama Review: 24: Legacy

Title: 24: Legacy

Director(s): Jon Cassar (and others)

Screenwriter(s): Evan Katz, Manny Coto, David Fury (and others)

Studio: Imagine Television, Teakwood Lane Productions, 20th Century Fox

Released: 2017

Runtime: 12 episodes, ~43m each.

Starring: Corey Hawkins, Miranda Otto, Jimmy Smits, Teddy Sears, Anna Diop, Ashley Thomas, Raphael Acloque, Sheila Vand, Gerald McRaney, Bailey Chase

24: Legacy

Despite being a fan of 24, I never got around to the spin-off series 24: Legacy until recently. Like 24: Live Another Day released in 2014, this is a 12-episode season that spans just under 12 hours with the final scenes jumping twelve hours.

Set three years after Live Another Day, it is still centered on CTU but without Jack Bauer. The plot follows ex-US Army Ranger Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) who was part of the squad that took out terrorist leader Sheikh Ibrahim Bin-Khalid.

Although now under a new identity in the US as part of something like a witness protection program, bin-Khalid’s men find Carter and his squad not just for revenge but to re-acquire a “strongbox” which they think one of the soldiers took. They fail to kill Carter who didn’t take the so-called strongbox. As the strongbox is needed to launch attacks, Carter pursues the terrorists.

Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins)—talking on the phone.
Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins)—talking on the phone.

In all respects, Legacy is derivative of 24. This is not a bad thing although there is nothing new or particularly great either.

The series is broken into four arcs (or at least that is one way to count it). The pacing is quick but steady. In seasons with 24 episodes, obstacles that take, for example, one episode for the main character to overcome are done in half an episode or less in a 12-episode setup. The former case is usually done with good effect although sometimes it is obvious that the sequence is deliberately dragged out for the sake of dramatic tension. The latter avoids that problem but it is noticeably hurried. Some things just happen too quickly given that it is in real-time. In any case, it does make for an interesting study, to compare what is fundamentally the same story in half the screen time.

As a sidebar, in this shorter format, there could be two or three time jumps instead of merely one at the end to fulfill the twenty-four hours. That is hardly radical and a few stints in real-time still maintain the traditional feel of the show.

As Carter pursues the terrorists, there is the usual issue of who the hero can trust. He calls Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), former CTU Director and wife of senator and presidential candidate John Donovan (Jimmy Smits). Ingram can be trusted but nobody else can initially. There is the usual misdirection of one person possibly being a traitor but then is not and turns out to be someone else and so on.

John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) and Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto)—more talking on the phone.
John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) and Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto)—more talking on the phone.

Carter also has to make sure his wife Nicole (Anna Diop) is safe so he reluctantly takes her to his gangster brother Isaac (Ashley Thomas). This is awkward because they have a history. Television is a cheesy medium and 24 is no exception. It can be argued that 24 is more cheesy than others, everything from its soundtrack and sound effects to relationship issues whether as part of the A-story or B-story. It gets away with it because its high intensity mostly masks the problems. But this tactic becomes more apparent with each series and Legacy has the problem of, to put it crudely, “it’s getting old” even if it’s not stale.

The production is decent and it is consistent. However, given the budgetary savings in a shorter 12-episode series, one might expect the savings to help maintain the typically high standards usually seen in 24. Not quite, unfortunately. The visual effects need to be better, the open-floor design at CTU headquarters is a little too cheap, and the gunfights are too short and unconvincing. None of these problems on their own outright ruin the series but they are glaring even if they are not jarring.

The cinematography is not bad but the major weakness is like every series since season 2 or season 3. The camera work, lighting and the more liberal use of split screen in season 1 are still sadly missing.

Some details in the writing can use more attention, and I don’t mean the constant use of phones with no battery problems. For example, Carter is meant to be under a new identity but everyone who already knows him calls him Carter as if he has always been Eric Carter. Another example is the usual potential traitor. Whilst it makes some sense because of their inside access, there is also a lot of vetting and surveillance which makes that difficult.

Of course, it has to go a little woke with two gay guys at CTU who used to be a couple. The setup feels forced even if the two characters aren’t bad. Bailey Chase as Agent Locke is under-utilized whilst Dan Bucatinsky can be genuinely funny as the season’s wierdo techie Andy Shalowitz.

Ultimately, despite all the abovementioned problems, the solid cast really sells it, even in the cheesiest scenes, and that is the strength of the series. Carter is not quite a Bauer clone. He has the hero’s stubbornness and determination but he is more sensitive than Bauer and more readily to express his emotions. Hawkins does a solid job and it’s a shame there probably won’t be another series.

The structure and pacing are what is expected from 24 with ridiculous dramatic action that is worthy of a laugh or two, especially the in-office violence and beating up authority figures. And by the way, one of the terrorists’ targets is a busy bridge. I am not suggesting it is predictive programming since bridges are obvious targets but it is somewhat amusing.


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