Films set in Africa have come a long way recently. Stereotyped natives and mzungu heroes have given way to more complex takes on the continent. The Last King of Scotland and Blood Diamond both captured something about the feel of the place while offering a serious look at Africa and its problems. Blood Diamond, in particular, managed to make the jump from niche audience to Hollywood blockbuster
So it was with some excitement that I received 24: Redemption for Christmas. Jack Bauer is a weakness of mine. I find his brand of televisual porn – you know it’s bad for you but you can’t help yourself, even if it might make you go blind – to be hugely addictive (I went through the first series in a weekend, much to the surprise of the guy at the DVD rental place. I lied and said I’d been ill and couldn’t leave my house). If 24: Redemption was set in Africa then surely we were in for a Dogs of War-style treat.
Erm no. The plot did nod towards Frederick Forsyth with a coup controlled by nasty men in Washington DC. But everything else, from the ridiculous made-up country of Sangala, to the oversentimental portrayal of child soldiers, lacked Forsyth’s finesse and painstaking attention to detail.
The new setting won plaudits in several quarters, such as The Times…
Opening up the series to another continent flooded the show with oxygen and at the same time mercifully reduced the stakes somewhere towards believability.
But I couldn’t see it. Sangala just didn’t feel right. And I know the 2hr film was called Redemption, but Bauer leading a party of schoolchildren to safety? Come on. Surely the Bauer I know would have been training another bunch of villagers and leading a counter-coup. This was a filler designed to sate appetites starved by the writers’s strike. And it showed.