The return of Jack Bauer
Its been four years since Jack Bauer has been visible on our screens, but this week he comes out of hiding to once again beat the clock to thwart yet another conspiracy/terrorist produced chaos.
Kiefer Sutherland spent 10 years playing the role of Jack Bauer (winning a Golden Globe and Emmy) and is back to reprise this anti-hero character who does what needs to be done in order to achieve justice.
Retaining the ‘real time’ method of narration made famous in the previous 10 seasons, 24: Live Another Day, restarts the ticking clock on another suspenseful, high-octane race to prevent an unthinkable terrorist attack and save the world. With the slight modification of covering 12 hours in real time, rather than the usual 24, Live Another Day continues to utilize the pulse-pounding, fast-paced format with split screens and interweaving storylines, and of course the signature Jack Bauer ‘I’m sucking a lemon’ scowl that tells you he is on a mission.
Set and shot in London, the suspenseful series once again follows the exploits of Jack, now a fugitive from justice. Despite his exiled status, he nevertheless seems yet again willing to risk his life and freedom to avert another global disaster. After 4 years, Bauer is up to his old tricks, trusting no-one, breaking the law, planting bugs, kicking some serious butt, and living in the land of all things ethically grey!
So…what is it about Jack Bauer?
In this iteration of 24, Jack is the ultimate ‘outsider’ to law – he is a fugitive with an instinct for violent action in response to possible terrorist activity.
He follows no rules or laws except his own, has a unique instinct for violent action, and his isolation and alienation from the legal institutions he used to serve, has forced him to fall back completely on his own extra-legal ways. It is this extra-legality that we seem to love – the uncanny ability Jack possesses to know that torture, although illegal, is not only justified, but entirely effective and therefore necessary.
As the ‘outsider’ Jack is the damaged anti-hero who we love to see break the law in order to serve the greater good. As co-creator of 24 Robert Cochran says:
"He doesn't often do the right thing, but he does the right thing by breaking the rules – that's kind of exciting and people want to root for that."
This is most evident in the trailer which you can see if you click here.
In the clip, CIA operations chief Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) is talking to Jack Bauer after two Russian diplomats are killed, and he says:
“I know how many lives you’ve saved — how much the country is in your debt – but they’re just going to see a man who snapped... Killing and mutilating with no regard to law or conscience. A man whose country now labels him a criminal; a terrorist.”
It will be interesting to see how long Jack Bauer will remain an enemy of the state in this latest season of 24.
Will his ‘outsider’ status prove useful to the ultimate goal of saving the world from terrorist actions?
Even more interesting for my law and pop culture students is the question surrounding the legitimacy of law in that world, and the ultimate efficacy of law in the search for justice.
Is extra-legality now the necessity for effecting true justice?
Let’s see what Jack tells us over the 12 hours of Live Another Day….