24: Legacy is a fresh burst of TV adrenalin

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - FRA­ZIER MOORE

It’s no se­cret that TV has a habit of re­cy­cling past hits. (“Fuller House”?! Re­ally?!)

This has al­ways been the case with tele­vi­sion. And now, among the nearly 500 scripted se­ries over­whelm­ing the viewer, TV re­boots aren’t go­ing away. (More “Fuller House”?! Ah, c’mon!)

A nat­u­ral re­sponse to this TV echo cham­ber is to treat each re­hashed se­ries as an­other sign of cre­ative bank­ruptcy. (Item: “Fuller House.”) But not al­ways. Fox is clock­ing in with “24: Legacy,” which pre­mières Sun­day at 10:30 p.m. right af­ter the Su­per Bowl, fol­lowed by a sec­ond hour in the se­ries’ reg­u­lar slot Mon­day at 8 p.m.

Sur­prise! “24: Legacy” is a blast! Judg­ing from the first three episodes, it’s at least as good as the se­ries that in­spired it.

The orig­i­nal “24,” which pre­mièred in the fall of 2001 with Kiefer Suther­land as its star, tracked counter-ter­ror­ist agent Jack Bauer through eight sea­sons of 24 hour­long episodes that spanned a full day in real-time sto­ry­telling as he lit­er­ally saved the day while slough­ing off phys­i­cal abuse that would’ve put Su­per­man in in­ten­sive care.

Now it’s Sgt. Eric Carter who’s hav­ing a hor­ri­ble, no good, very bad day. Or ac­tu­ally, HALF-day: This “24” spans a dozen episodes stretch­ing 12 con­tin­u­ous hours.

Played by Corey Hawkins (“Straight Outta Comp­ton”), Carter is the new in­de­fati­ga­ble hero. He’s joined by an all-new group of char­ac­ters in­clud­ing Re­becca In­gram (played by Mi­randa Otto), a bril­liant in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer who has just stepped down from her post as Na­tional Di­rec­tor of the Coun­terT­er­ror­ism Unit to de­vote her full en­er­gies to the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of her hus­band, Sen. John Dono­van (the al­ways-solid Jimmy Smits), whose long­time cam­paign di­rec­tor may or may not threaten his can­di­dacy — and the na­tion.

The trou­ble started six months ago in Ye­men, where Carter led an elite squad of U.S. army Rangers to kill ter­ror­ist leader Sheik Bin-Khalid. Af­ter that, Bin-Khalid’s fol­low­ers struck back with a fatwa against Carter, his squad and their fam­i­lies, which forced them all into fed­eral wit­ness pro­tec­tion. But in the pre­mière (cov­er­ing noon-1 p.m.), Carter, liv­ing with his wife in peace­ful, bor­ing se­crecy, learns to his hor­ror that his team’s new where­abouts have all been com­pro­mised. Pay­back against them and mul­ti­ple at­tacks against the U.S. are in the works.

Bot­tom line: Be­tween now and the stroke of mid­night, Carter’s got his work cut out for him.

It may be hard to re­call, but “24” was an enor­mously in­no­va­tive and am­bi­tious se­ries when it launched. There’s a real ship-in-a-bot­tle chal­lenge to craft­ing a com­plex, ac­tion­packed thriller suf­fi­ciently con­tained in time and space that it can un­fold co­her­ently, minute-by-tick­ing-minute, while it keeps its lead­ing man in the cen­tre of the fray.

By the time Jack Bauer wheezed through one fi­nal 12-hour round of der­ring-do in 2014, it would have been rea­son­able to con­clude that this once-ground­break­ing for­mat had, like Bauer, run its course — and also rea­son­able to think that Jack Bauer was essen­tial to the “24” fran­chise.

Wrong on both counts. The sturdy for­mat of “24” proves here to be sur­pris­ingly re­silient. Re­plen­ished with new faces, the orig­i­nal for­mula is back in full force.

The dig­i­tal minute-and-hour read­out with the pound­ing beat? Check.

Lots of vi­o­lence, lots of high-tech wiz­ardry? Check.

Lots of rac­ing down city streets while talk­ing on a cell­phone (isn’t that il­le­gal?).

And lots of trust is­sues! Part of the fun of “24” has al­ways been the presto-change-o iden­ti­ties of cer­tain key char­ac­ters, with good guys abruptly un­masked as archvil­lains, and vice versa. From mo­ment to mo­ment, you can’t be sure of any­thing.

“Right now, I’m the only one I can trust,” Carter wails to his wife. You feel his pain.

This “24” also seems to stay true to its in­her­ent ab­sur­dity. If mem­ory serves, never in the Suther­land era did Jack Bauer ever have the chance to catch a few winks, wolf down a Pow­erBar or take a bath­room break. In the first hours of his own cri­sis du jour, Sgt. Carter is in the same fran­tic rush. He’s got zero “me time.”

But such real-life con­cerns don’t mat­ter this go-around any more than they ever did. In the highly ca­pa­ble hands of Hawkins-as-Carter and his fel­low cast of char­ac­ters, “24: Legacy” out­paces pesky rea­son. It’s a fresh burst of adrenalin, a breath­less whiz-bang romp that guar­an­tees you’ll be on high alert un­til the clock strikes 12.

Corey Hawkins stars in “24: Legacy,” which echoes the “real-time” for­mat of its pre­de­ces­sor, “24.”

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