First Night 24: Redemption, Sky One

Jack's back – with a worthy villain in Voight

Whoops! They got that wrong. I'm talking about "US President-Elect, Allison Taylor, America's first female head of state", according to 24: Redemption, last night's long-awaited television movie version of 24 (a couple of hectic hours from one afternoon, instead of the whole day – 2 would have been a more accurate title).

I guess whenever they started writing this one-off special bridging the gap between series six and seven, Hillary Clinton must have seemed a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination, and thus the presidency, and 24 was going to return with a zeitgeisty swagger in its step. Instead it sidled back like someone who had their money on the wrong horse. Oh well, these things happen, and anyway, 24 had a black US president when Barack Obama was still teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago. Maybe the first female president stuff is just their tip for 2012.

Anyway, it's been three years since Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) last saved the world, and 18 months since 24 fans last caught a glimpse of their hero – during which time the US writers' strike has been far more destructive than any terrorist WMDs. It seems he's been lying low in the fictional African nation of Sangala (why are the names of fictional African nations invariably always so corny-sounding?) dodging federal subpoenas and, as the title suggests, trying to make amends for his past sins by helping out at an orphanage. This happy and commendable establishment is run by an old special forces chum played by Robert Carlyle, for reasons best known to himself, in an Irish accent. Perhaps, like possessing an Irish passport in a polarised world, his nationality is intended to suggest a certain humanitarian neutrality. Perhaps the actor's native Glaswegian doesn't play in Idaho and Des Moines.

Topically enough, given the appalling events in a different and very real part of Africa, Sangala is an unstable place where local warlords brainwash children into becoming boy soldiers. Jack kicks warlord arse, takes digs at the United Nations ("Why don't you go hide in the shelter with the rest of the children?", he tells the resident UN worker) and generally imposes a white, Western (as in Gary Cooper reaching for his Colt 45) solution on an African problem.

You feel that Jack's defiant pronouncement: "If they want me back in Washington they can come and get me" – to the sleazy federal employee who finally manages to serve a subpoena on him (for torture and general crimes against humanity, natch) – will soon enough be fulfilled. This is especially so since being a good man in Africa has him fall foul of the man bankrolling the civil war in Sangala – a promising new 24 baddie played with understated, viper-eyed menace by Jon Voight. What a treat to see Voight – an actor usually subtitled these days as "Angelina Jolie's father" – being deployed to such good effect, and if he's going to be the chief villain of season seven, there is much to look forward to.

And, in effect, that is what 24: Redemption amounted to: a sweaty, very extended and occasionally rather soupy trailer for the new series that begins in January. The messy and stale-seeming series six was universally panned, so perhaps the extended break will allow the once essential 24 to refresh itself and regenerate. As for President-elect Allison Taylor, it seems she might be less of a Clinton and more of an Obama figure after all. After an idealistic outburst, the recently-ousted president, Noah Daniels (Powers Booth) tells her: "Wait till you've been sitting in this office for a few months." You can already anticipate the distaste with which she will greet Bauer's brutal pragmatism and also the realisation that her survival will depend on him. Bring it on.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary