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'24' movie: Could it work?

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Jack Bauer has the same initials as James Bond and Jason Bourne. Soon, he might be joining them on the big screen: The long-rumored 24 movie is moving closer to being a reality, reports EW’s Lynette Rice, with State of Play screenwriter Billy Ray in talks to write the script. Kiefer Sutherland has indicated that the film would keep the show’s all-in-one-day conceit but would ditch the real-time, allowing Jack to, say, fly from Serbia to London without the viewer suffering six episodes of bad airplane food.

Personally, I’ve got mixed feelings about the potential movie. Few TV shows feel so laser-welded to the television medium as 24. It’s right there in the title: 24 hours, the length of a complete TV season, with commercial breaks. Then again, the 24 franchise could use a little jolt: ratings are down this season, and the move to New York hasn’t stopped the show from feeling a few seasons past its prime. (Although, counter-opinion, my mother still loves it.)

I like the choice of Billy Ray as a screenwriter. He wrote the screenplays for Volcano, Hart’s War, and Flightplan — all terrible. But he also wrote AND directed Shattered Glass and Breach, two playfully twisty little films with themes of espionage and corporate malfeasance that play right into the world of 24. Those two movies are so good I’m thinking it might be that Ray wrote excellent screenplays for those earlier films that were then ruined by bad directors. (Maybe not so much with Volcano.)

TV-to-Movie adaptations are always tricky, especially when a movie is being conceived while the show is still running. X-Files: Fight the Future comes to mind: It had a bigger budget (exploding buildings! third-act vacation to Antarctica!) , but its very hugeness seemed to obscure all the little sardonic touches that made X-Files such a great show.

My only piece of advice for the 24 producers, then, is: Keep It Simple. Don’t feel the need to make a globe-trotting Casino Royale-esque action epic, with Parkour chases and comely femmes fatale. We don’t need to see Jack Bauer Goes to Kabul (although that would work as a sitcom reboot.) We go to 24 for the twisted espionage, the feeling that our closest friends, co-workers, and even adorable family members could turn out to be a double agent for the terrorists/the evil corporation/the government.

What do you want to see from a 24 movie, PopWatchers? Are you satisfied with Kiefer Sutherland’s idea of “a two-hour representation of a day,” or would you prefer two real-time hours in the life of Jack Bauer like 24: Redemption? And if Billy Ray doesn’t direct, who would you like to see helm the feature? In my dreams, it would be twist-master Chris Nolan, but I imagine he’s a little busy.

Photo Credit: Kelsey McNeal/Fox