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November 21, 2008

Reviews of '24:Redemption'

_mjk4785 Africa is yellowy. On the preview disc and the trailer clip below, at least, the two-hour "24: Redemption" movie premiering Sunday night employs an amber haze to characterize a lawless and distant foreign land. The technique made me think of allergy attacks on the Serengeti, whereas the scenes set in Washington D.C. are shown in cold, steely tones. 

"Redemption" opens with a scene involving conscripted children that producers had to fight to keep intact. Some at the network thought it was too dark, but it's effective. What follows is a melodrama starring a mournful Jack Bauer protecting children from an evil warlord whose military coup apparently hinges on simultaneously enlisting a group of terrified 11 year olds (the show's fictional African country, by and by, is called Sangala, which sounds like an drink served at a trendy restaurant -- "We'll have the enchiladas suizas and two sangalas.")

For those who love the show's conservative politics, there's a sniveling UN representative that Jack Bauer sends into hiding during a fight: "Go hide in the shelter, with the other children," he sneers, though EW described the line in their review as more of a "snarl." There's also two torture scenes, which is about right for "24" -- two hours, two torture scenes. (Flashback quote: Homer Simpson watching a show about a violent cop and shouting at his TV, "He gets results you stupid chief!")

EW gave the movie a B- and so did Newsday. Boston Globe called it "flat." USA Today says it "represents a reconnection with the real world, where actions have consequences, and the general populace notices when disaster strikes." Indeed, the movie has less of the loopy, anything-goes narrative roller coaster of last season. Characters don't seem like they're about to switch allegiances at the drop of a writer's pen.

"24" also represents the last of writers strike victims returning to air. The track record in the ratings for such shows has been ugly. Strategy-wise, there's two ways to look at Fox's movie-first plan: it either takes some of the air out of pent-up viewer anticipation that might be better saved for the "24" seventh season premiere in January ... or helps promote the premiere, waking up viewers to the show's return with a warm-up event.

The movie's ratings are anybody's guess. Most seem to think it will perform well, despite airing against football. What's a good 18-49 number for this thing? A 4.0? A 4.8? In any case, unless the rating is extreme in one direction or the other, it will be tough to say what "Redemption" will mean for the show's return.

Here's the "Redemption" trailer:

And here's the seventh-season preview:



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