Jack’s Back! 24: Live Another Day is More Adrenalized Fun!

24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY:  Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer.  24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY is set to premiere Monday, May 5 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Daniel Smith/FOX

24: Live Another Day (Fox, Monday, 8/7 for the premiere – then Mondays, 9/8C) is the 24 you remember – only with Jack Bauer now essentially a man without a nation. Plus drones.

It’s been four years since Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) saved the world and/or the U.S. but did some things that made him persona non-grata in most of the Western world. After four years off the grid he’s back because even off the grid, he has an uncanny knack for receiving intel on terrorist plans to kill the President of the United States and/or start World War III.

Naturally, he needs help. And, equally naturally, his best bet for getting the specific kind of help he needs resides in the person of Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub). First problem – she’s being held in a black site in London (England, not Ontario) where she’s undergoing the kind of off-book interrogations that no one would be willing to admit to on the record.

The same building houses a CIA hub run by Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) – which has picked up on his presence in the city and sent out a team to apprehend him – but one of his operatives, Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) has a feeling about Jack’s activities in London – and if she comes off as the female equivalent of a younger Jack, that might just be because she is. Navarro pays no attention to her because she’s about to leave under cloudy circumstances. Her replacement is a hot-tempered jackass named Erik Ritter (Gbenga Akinnagbe) and seems very quick to question motivation – and orders.

Meanwhile, on a London-based U.S. military installation, an argument between a drone pilot and his commanding officer is about to lead to some very nasty situations.

Plus, just to keep things from getting boring, President James Heller (William Devane) is in town to renew the deal under which that military base operates. He’s accompanied by – among other people – his Chief of Staff, Marc Boudreau (Tate Donovan) and his wife/Heller’s daughter, Audrey (Kim Raver).

The 12-hour event series kicks off with enough action in its two-hour premiere to propel a full season of most action/suspense/thriller series – all done with the stylistic flourishes we have come to associate with 24: ticking clocks; split screens; a multitude of characters (I haven’t even mentioned the super hacker and his dizzy blonde girlfriend, or Chloe’s underground quasi-WikiLeaks band of hacktivists – or Heller’s personal problem) and the potential for the worst of all possible outcomes.

The premiere – written by Evan Katz and Manny Coto, and Robert Cochran and David Fury; directed by Jon Cassar – plays out like four of the best episodes of the original series. Plot twists and turns; characters who have secrets that influence everything they do; a potential evil villain (played by Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley), and, undoubtedly, several tons of misdirection.

The best idea, though, has to be Jack having none of the resources he used to have when the CIA was backing him – this is a desperate Jack; quite possibly a nastier Jack, who looks like the intervening four years have been more like a decade. He’s pretty much on his own – except for Chloe (who’s gone very Goth). That makes him – and Live Another Day – darker and edgier.

If you loved the early few seasons of 24 – minus the whole Kim/cougar idiocy – you will most likely love 24: Live Another Day. It takes a few elements from the real world then spins them into all sorts of crazy directions – from the moment Ritter is introduced, we can start playing Spot the Mole (the biggest surprise of all would be that there isn’t one – but what are the chances?). And, fans of the original series, who’s jacked (pardon the expression) for the moment when Commando Chloe finally appears?

As with the best seasons of the series, 24: Live Another Day looks to be supremely clever as well as off-the-wall nuts. And that makes for great entertainment.

Final Grade: A-

Photos by Daniel Smith/Courtesy of Fox