What was once an innovative, attention-grabbing concept is in its sixth season starting to resemble a bad ITV drama starring Ross Kemp.
This sixth season sees Jack released from a Chinese prison and handed over to a terrorist organization in order to stop a bombing campaign on US cities orchestrated by a rogue Islamist cell. Jack manages to escape in rather improbable circumstances and is brought back into the CTU fold in order to hunt down the remaining nuclear devices.
As the episodes unfold the plot twists become evermore ludicrous, with Jack miraculously avoiding certain death on an hourly basis. In between these superhuman feats he encounters villainous family members, has a morally suspect relationship with his emotionally unstable sister-in-law and has time for a very close wet shave.
In some respects the producers of 24 have been hoisted by their own petard – if this season were condensed into ten hours of TV it might be an engaging and nerve-jangling thriller, but by being forced to produce 24 episodes the writers are required to pad out the story with absurd subplots involving office romances and alcoholism, which really test the viewer’s suspension of disbelief (as does the fact that by the end of the season Jack is inexplicably sporting a man-bag).
Kiefer Sutherland turns in a commendably committed performance, but is surrounded everywhere by pantomime acting. Let’s hope that the long-rumoured 24 cinema outing brings this endeavour to an end.
Released on DVD on Monday 1st October 2007 by Twentieth Century Fox.