The television series 24 (Fox, 8 seasons available on Netflix) is an action thriller that attempts to have the viewer hold their seats using the devise of time. Each season consists of a day in the life of Jack Bauer, a terrorist special unit agent working for the US government, who attempts to defuse imminent threats of various forms.
The time devise, at least in this plot setting, is apropo since terrorism works towards an instant and violent strike that’s carried out with much planing. Jack Bauer is on the case and must do what he can to thwart a strike and he doesn’t have much time to do it.
Is the show thrilling enough? The short answer is yes and the evidence is 24 was able to air for 8 seasons. The problem with the show is the outlandish nature of the various plots. Questions of jurisdiction arise. Serious criminals are apprehended, escape, or simply allowed to be sprung free just to see where they may lead, or strike a bargain with “higher ups” so that they may help apprehend their superiors. Conspiracies are too pervasive, almost to banana republic lengths and Jack Bauer is constantly races around town getting into gun fights and breaking any law he feels inconvenience him.
The other shortcoming are plot holes. In the first season a hired assassin has to get access to a presidential candidate at a breakfast event by posing as a photographer. In order for this to work he has plastic surgery and for his press pass the real photographer is killed by blowing up the passenger plane he flies in on where a woman accomplice steals his pass, plants a bomb and jumps out of the plane with a parachute. The assassin now has access. Bauer is on the scene because he’s being blackmailed to assist the assassin. He attempts to secretly pass a message to a friend alerting the Secret Service of the plan but an accomplice posing as a construction worker stops him in his tracks. Why blow up a plane for a press pass when all that was needed for access was to enter in as a construction worker just like the construction worker?
Too many times the highly charge action isn’t necessary. In one episode a computer was hacked and the hacker is traced to a location. Bauer investigates the location (this is at 2 or 3 in the morning) which for some reason is a big warehouse and sure enough in walks the suspect. This leads to a chase and a gun fight and a cop is killed in the process and the suspect is apprehended. The suspect has more information that Bauer needs and must answer a pay phone at 3 or 4 in the morning and so Bauer helps him escape police lock-up. This puts Bauer in a lot of trouble, of course, but it’s effective and Bauer gets what he wants. All this action just to catch a guy and then get information out of him just as a passenger plane exploding just to obtain a press pass.
It’s an action thriller but more accurately it’s an action filler that made me exhausted just watching it. I see how it works and why it was successful but Jack’s day is too long and complicated to bother.