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Some days are better than others, and nobody knows more about bad days than the characters of the 24 universe. With that in mind, Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer has finally taken some much-needed retirement, and the responsibility of kicking terrorist ass and saving America as we know it has officially been handed down to Corey Hawkins' Eric Carter. Although 24: Legacy doesn't reimagine the 24 franchise in dramatic fashion, it certainly works as a serviceable reboot that is both thrilling and intense enough to get long-term fans of the series back onboard immediately.
As many of you already know, 24: Legacy shifts its focus away from Jack Bauer to Eric Carter, another brooding man of action. The former Special Forces operator finds his new civilian life suddenly turned upside down when a group of terrorists begins hunting him and the rest of his old squad down, and it's traced back to a mission they conducted during their time overseas. This sudden, violent return to the line of duty sees Carter team-up with former head of CTU and possible new First Lady Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) to hunt down this radical organization and prevent it from activating terrorist cells all over the country.
It should come as no surprise that 24: Legacy doesn't necessarily reinvent the wheel with its primary structure or premise. Episodes run in real time and use the traditional split screen/ticking clock devices to keep a sense of urgency to the proceedings. This reboot works for the most part, although the early episodes include some wholly unnecessary diversions from the main plot only to add more action scenes and fill time. After that somewhat cluttered opening, however, 24: Legacy eventually starts to find its confidence as the subplots coalesce.
For better or for worse, this continuation of traditional 24 tropes and concepts bleeds into the central narrative as well. You've seen this story before: the pensive hero must race against time to stop a group of terrorists from committing an act of domestic terrorism, and Legacy updates that idea to focus on the relevant concept of radicalized lone wolf sleeper cells on American soil. It's commendable to see the show tackle such an important idea, but the execution is far from perfect early on. Without getting too politically into the weeds, Legacy has a tendency to fall back on some fairly well-worn and xenophobic ideas with regards to how it frames its bad guys. It's not enough to completely scuttle our enjoyment of the newly rebooted series, but it has us wondering if Legacy will try anything new as the season progresses.
Despite the familiar format, one refreshing element of 24: Legacy, especially compared to other reboots of a similar ilk, is its willingness to exist on its own merit without feeling overly slavish to what came before it in terms of references or Easter eggs. Jack Bauer is gone, and the series (at least in the first few episodes) seems willing to let the iconic hero go. 24: Legacy clearly shares an enormous amount of DNA with the original 24 series, but I honestly found myself surprised how few winks and nods Legacy included towards the original continuity. Format and hero similarities aside, this is a new 24 for a new generation, and it admirably wants to find its voice -- it just hasn't gotten there yet.
That said, there are certain mental hurdles that we will have to get over as fans of the original series. Although the show firmly embraces the lack of Jack Bauer and strongly invests in Eric Carter as its new hero, it's hard not to miss Jack at times -- particularly when every other aspect of the show feels so much like classic 24. Don't get me wrong, Corey Hawkins does an entirely commendable job headlining 24: Legacy, but Kiefer Sutherland has the advantage of playing Bauer in almost 200 episodes of the original series. Hawkins hasn't reached the same level of intensity or instant iconography of his predecessor yet, though his early episodes certainly bode well for his potential to grow into the role.
Hawkins' potential becomes even more notable when you get a glimpse of how well he performs in 24: Legacy's action sequences -- which are unquestionably the best element of the newly rebooted series. The show is built on consistent tension, and the well-orchestrated fight sequences help punctuate that tension. 24 has always been known for action, and Legacy continues that tradition with frenetic (yet still coherent) fun and fist fights. We may now live in an era where shows like Daredevil and Game of Thrones have upped the ante for violence on the small screen, but 24: Legacy features some of the most brutal action that you will see on any traditional TV network -- which should excite any true 24 aficionado.
Ultimately, 24: Legacy hasn't entirely escaped the specter of Kiefer Sutherland and his heroic Jack Bauer, but the action-packed drama strikes a strong balance between the familiar and the new to breathe fresh life into the classic TV franchise. Corey Hawkins' Eric Carter is a worthy enough successor, and we're on board to see where this white-knuckle reboot goes from here.