Full Disclosure: I never watched the original 24. Not because I wasn't interested, or because I was turned off by what little I did see. It just happened to premiere during a period of time in the 00s when I really wasn't much of a TV watcher. That said, I'm familiar with the show's conventions, and I did end up becoming a fan of the show's cousin, Homeland, on Showtime. So I walked into this Pilot episode for 24: Legacy with no real expectations or baggage from the Kiefer Sutherland iteration of the series.
It was pretty great.
The episode doesn't waste any time setting things up, but rather it starts things off at a full sprint. Within about 90 seconds we see a home being raided, a man being interrogated- and executed- by mysterious baddies, and our first glimpse of the show's protagonist. The machinations of the show's plot become clear right away, as we start to learn that series star Corey Hawkins is playing Eric Carter- a former member of an elite military strike team that took down a Bin Laden-esque terrorist leader a few months ago and is now in government-assisted hiding alongside his wife Nicole (Anna Diop).
It would appear that one of the members of his team stole something that was quite valuable during the raid on on the terrorist leader's compound, and the leader's surviving officers are now hunting down all of the members of Carter's team trying to get it back. But how were these nefarious killers able to find Carter and his mates if only four people in the world know their new identities and top secret whereabouts? There must be a traitor of course!
This premise is outlined pretty quickly, as 24: Legacy takes us on a full throttle ride from start to finish. Along the way, we meet Miranda Otto's Rebecca Ingram, the former head of CTU, and the wife of Senator John Donovan (Jimmy Smits), who is running for President. We also get to know her central conflict, which is that the only reason she left the CTU was to transition into the role of eventual First Lady and let Donovan have his moment to shine during his Presidential run; and yet now, with what's happening to Carter's team, she feels herself getting pulled back into the world of the CTU.
The episode is filled with action, twists, and turns. It's shot with intensity and urgency, and that allows for the smaller, quieter character moments to really shine. Ensemble players Ashley Thomas, Charlie Hofheimer, Coral Peña, and Dan Bucatinsky all do strong work establishing their characters and giving us dynamics that we can look forward to exploring in later episodes, but the main actor we have to speak about here is Hawkins.
The actor, known for his turn as Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton, and for playing the somewhat androgynous Heath in AMC's The Walking Dead, is an extremely intriguing choice for the lead role in 24: Legacy. Just based on appearance alone, he doesn't scream "action hero." With his gentle features, and lanky physique, he brings a very different look and feel to the 24-verse than Sutherland did as Jack Bauer. He's a more contemplative, more sensitive kind of character, and that makes him a unique choice to center such an action-centric series around.
A key scene between Carter and his brother Isaac (Thomas) reveals there's a very tumultuous backstory between the two siblings and that's a dynamic I hope we get to learn much more about. In fact, several of the subplots seem ripe for exploration. What Smits and Otto were able to create in, essentially, two scenes, has me quite curious about what's going to happen with Donovan's Presidential run and Ingram's desire to deal with this potential CTU mole. Hofheimer's Ben Grimes is also a wild card that's sure to cause some chaos during the later hours.
All in all, I think there's something for everyone here. The action is fun, the performances are great, and the storylines- both major and minor- all seem to be filled with potential. As far as first episodes go, this one sets up 24: Legacy to be a truly special spinoff- One filled with high-octane thrills and interesting characters.
If I had one gripe while watching it, it was that since they opted to move at such a break-neck pace some of the early dialogue is a little on-the-nose. Since the writers wanted to simultaneously start things off with a bang and explain the central story beats, some of the exposition comes off as a little forced and unnatural. But that was a minor quibble, since it really only happened a couple of times during the first 10 minutes.