Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

The Jack Bauer Hour of Power

For me, Monday’s the happiest video day of the week.
It’s the day that my TiVo Now Playing List shows nothing but episodes of Fox’s 24 – the addictive thriller that I never get tired of. And I’m not the only one who’s obsessed: Panopticist’s Andrew Hearst geeks out on the timecode.
Even the THE SENTINEL, the Secret Service action movie that was essentially an side-sequel for the Fox/24 brand, worked okay*** for me. If Kiefer Sutherland can stand to play Steve McGarrett law enforcement types every so often, I’ll be delighted to go see his movies. Sutherland conveys a badass-to-soulful ratio that few of his contemporaries can match. Onscreen, onscreen, he’s grim and slightly terrifying, in the way that Humphrey Bogart could be in movies like THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS and THE PETRIFIED FOREST.
Both Bogart and Sutherland are the gaunt, gun-wielding aristocrats of B-movie thrillers. There may not be room for much emotional range in every episode of 24 (how many ways can there be to flip open a mobile phone and snarl, “This is Jack Bauer–who’s running CTU?” But even at the silliest of moments, Sutherland never looks down on the material, and he never flinches.

A&E’s been running 24’s early seasons in syndication, so it’s still possible to catch seasons two (Los Angeles threatened by nuclear bomb) and season three (drug dealers & skin-eating viruses) all within one marathon of fear (or comedy, depending how you read this show.)
See Jack Bauer interrogate some Enemy of the State, get no answer, then shoot him in the knee till he cracks. (Well, that’s one way to do business.)
See President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) face down enemies foreign and domestic and then, during the commercial breaks, sell insurance with the same Abe Lincoln resolve. See the next president handle the same crises. Is he incompetent, evil… or both.?
(By the way, tonight’s broadcast of 24 and all network shows will be delayed by President George W. Bush’s address to the nation. Check local listings so you don’t miss a single word.)
See Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) scowl, hack, scowl again and clear the way for Jack to complete the mission. (I swear, the last few seasons have been about a thwarted passion between these two. Witness the cruel plot machinations that eliminated Chloe’s work frenemy Edgar from the mix. It didn’t matter whom he loved, or whom he was loved by: He was in the way.
Be warned, if Chloe and Jack ever get together – if they are distracted from national security matters for a moment– we’re all doomed.
And finally, if you have a chance, watch Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) spazz her way through a series of progressively more ridiculous ordeals in 24’s second season–easily the most amusingly insane of all the seasons. (As if we couldn’t tell that the scary-eyes bridezilla wasn’t going to go all Squeaky Fromme at some point.) Midway through a nuclear crisis, Kim, a Los Angeles nanny, somehow found herself on the run in the wilderness, ensnared in an animal trap and threatened by a cougar.
The big cat emerged from the brush, gave her the once-over, and walked away: she was just too pathetic to eat.
***Worked okay: I pretended that I was seeing THE SENTINEL on a flight to somewhere better, and that the in-flight movie and the flight were both free.
Also, I pretended that the identity of the traitor wasn’t so immediately apparent when he walked weedily into frame.

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2 Responses to “The Jack Bauer Hour of Power”

  1. Beatriz Brugueras says:

    on silent hill ….
    i liked the movie, eventhough its not a scary movie it keeps you in a bit of a tense atmosphere. For me it is a shame that its never explained why all these people never cough, sneeze etc, they were all dead!.

    Including our heroin was dead since the very moment she got to Silent Hill. They were living in two different dimensions, that is why her husband was never able to hear her on the phone and the only thing he could find from her was her smell.

  2. i’d guess you’re right about those nagging (to me) plot details. Silent Hill certainly was heavy on the atmosphere, and I did admire its gloomy beauty (the “dead town” deserves a coffee table photo book.)
    I just wished the movie hadn’t been so drearily slack.
    Did you recognize little girl, Jodelle Ferland, from this season of 24? She played the daughter of the doomed Presidential aide, and she’s in Terry Gilliam’s TIDELAND. She gives a remarkable, disturbing performance in a truly F’d up film.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon