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What You Need to Know About 24: Redemption

24: Redemption Kelsey McNeal/FOX

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is back and not a moment too soon. Apparently, the diabolical Gen. Juma (Tony Todd) is plotting a coup in the fictional African country of Sangala, and to do so, he needs child soldiers who can wield the automatic rifles provided by a wicked American mogul named Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight).

The story of Jack versus Juma and Jonas is told in 24: Redemption, the two-hour TV movie that is meant to tide us fans over until 24 the series returns for Day Seven in early 2009. It's a thrilling outing—I like to call it Jack Bauer Saves Children. (How has no one thought of making this movie before?)

I got a sneak peek last week, and I have the inside dish on what you need to know about the return of everybody's favorite TV superagent:

Jack's Got Friends in Low Places: Jack is in Sangala working at a school run by Carl Benton (Robert Carlyle) a friend of Jack's from when he was in Special Forces. This works out well, because when Juma's henchman Col. Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) comes looking for the kids it means Benton has a convenient stash of semi-automatic weapons on hand for Jack to play with. A well-choreographed and exciting firefight ensues, and Jack does his usual bang-up job of taking down the enemy, but in the end Juma's men get the upper hand.

The Tables Are Turned: When Jack is captured by the bad guys, he ends up being subjected to torture (they want him to give up the whereabouts of the kiddos), and then we happily learn that he has at least one move in common with fellow TV badass Sayid Jarrah. Care to guess what that move might be?

The New President Rocks: Cherry Jones is perfect as new President Allison Taylor, a woman who is simultaneously warm and chilly. You get the sense that she's a softie on one level and a very cool customer on another. The scenes where she meets with President Daniels (Powers Boothe) to finish up the transition between their two administrations positively crackle with tension and conflict.

Beware the Butterfly Effect: Jon Voight's Jonas Hodges is going to be a brilliant villain. He has a downright evil gleam in his eye as he rearranges the globe in to his personal satisfaction, despite the fact that his self-interest ravages the health and happiness of millions of others. In addition to the children who are brainwashed and destroyed by Juma, there is one scene where a Sangalan woman essentially volunteers herself into sexual slavery if only State Department official Frank Tramell (Gil Bellows) will help her escape the country. Somehow that one scene illustrates the debasement of an entire nation, and it all leads back to Hodges.

Keifer Rocks: Jack Bauer is famous for being Dwight Schrute's ideal (albeit unavailable, fictional and overqualified) assistant regional manager and/or the ass-kickingest TV action hero of the decade, but this installment of the 24 saga will also remind you of how much depth the man has. Kiefer has several moments where he brilliantly showcases that Bauer sometimes seems to have superpowers, but that he is just a man who shares our common human weaknesses and pain, even if he is infinitely more capable than the rest of us.

24: Redemption premieres on Fox on Sunday, Nov. 23.



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