Kiefer Sutherland

24: Legacy E1-2 (Fox)

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24-legacyNew 24: Legacy – exactly the same as the old 24.

Seriously, I could leave it there and make this a candidate for the shortest review on the site. The only surprising thing about the new 12-part mini-series spin-off is how little difference losing its iconic star Kiefer Sutherland has made to the franchise. Honestly, you’re more likely to notice that the on-screen ticking clock has gone from red and orange to a cool blue, or that the end credit music has been changed, than you are to notice that Jack Bauer is sitting this one out. And who can blame him?

It turns out that the lack of any returning characters really doesn’t make any difference, because the show is still packed with exactly the same archetypes as it always has been. The name tags might have changed, and the actors might be different this time around, but they’re going through exactly the same motions and spouting the same interchangeably homogeneous, bullet-point dialogue so it really doesn’t make any difference. You could just as easily be watching a rerun as a brand new show. Read the rest of this entry »

Pompeii (2014) [Blu-ray]

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Given the pretty poor reception for this Roman Empire disaster movie when it came out in February, I had seriously low expectations for anything remotely watchable from Pompeii but decided to give it a go anyway – and would almost describe myself as being rather pleasantly surprised by what I found, if that weren’t over-egging the situation just a little.

The first half of Pompeii is essentially a B-movie reworking of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, with a young Celtic warrior turned slave having to fight in the arena after Roman soldiers killed his entire family when he was just a boy, but with his heart still fixated on seeking vengeance on those responsible. The chance comes when he is taken to the summer resort city of Pompeii, where he also meets the daughter of a city grandee and wonders whether the earth is moving for her too – and for everyone else in Pompeii come to that, as the earthquakes pick up their tempo. The arena battle scenes are well choreographed, and then after a brief transitionary phase full of signs and portents of impending disaster we go into full-on CGI action mode as that nice, inoffensively picturesque Mount Vesuvius in the background starts to blow its top. Read the rest of this entry »

Prey S1 E1-2 (ITV) and 24: Live Another Day E1-2 (Sky One)

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I seem to be about the only person who isn’t completely enamoured by ITV’s new crime thriller mini-series Prey, and I’m not entirely certain why that should be. It certainly has some very strong aspects to it, but overall I’m left feeling rather cool and somewhat unengaged by it while critics all around me are swooning into its arms.

prey-iconThe story by TV newcomer Chris Lunt centres on police detective Marcus Farrow (John Simm) who finds himself arrested for a bloody killing he didn’t commit. Convinced he’s being framed because of his investigation into the case of a long-dead Turkish gangster, he goes on the run to solve that murder and by extension also the one he’s accused of, and has to evade his own former colleagues in the process. That gives rise to a hybrid drama, part all-action thriller and part crime procedural which is unusual for British productions but not so much in the wider scheme of things – the most obvious forebear being the TV and film versions of The Fugitive, but there’s also strong hints of 24 and the Bourne films in both the premise and the execution. Read the rest of this entry »

Touch – E1 “Pilot”

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No matter how fair-minded and balanced we like to think ourselves, we all have our “problem hot spots” – things that rub us up the wrong way or which we just don’t take to, regardless or how well they are done. Whether it’s a type of book or music or film or – as in this case – television series, sometimes we’re just not going to like something. Such is the case for me with Touch, Kiefer Sutherland’s new drama series following the end of 24.

I have no problems with Sutherland as an actor; his Jack Bauer was impressive at the start in 2001 even if the character did get increasingly clichéd and stale by the end of 24, so it’s actually nice to see Sutherland get to do something very different here. Instead of the action hero he’s playing a downtrodden every-guy struggling to connect emotionally with his (seemingly) autistic son. It shows Sutherland has range, subtlety and depth, and is a very welcome shift for him after all those years of hunting down terrorists without so much as a decent comfort break. Nor do I have a problem with the show’s creator, Tim Kring: I really enjoyed his previous series Heroes (or at least, the first season – I’m still mystified at how badly the thing unravelled from there) and indeed liked his previous more realistic cop/coroner show Crossing Jordan, too.

As readers of Taking The Short View will appreciate, I don’t have a problem with US shows in the slightest, even when they veer into that sugar-sweet emotionally manipulative territory that they so often do. I’ll own up to watching more than just a few episodes of Ghost Whisperer for example, before it was deemed too ‘nice’ even by the US audiences and quietly put to sleep by the networks. So I figured that I had a fairly high tolerance to the more eye-rollingly schmaltzy fare that can sometimes come from across the Atlantic.

I certainly wasn’t expecting my reaction to Touch to be quite as visceral and violent as it proved to be. To put it as simply as possible: I loathed this show with a passion and vehemence that frankly shocked me. I was, quite simply, physically allergic to it and repelled by it from very early on in such a drastic way that even I know is consciously wildly over the top, and yet which I still can’t help. Read the rest of this entry »