Jack Bauer closed the book on 24 last month in, if not in a blaze of glory, then a blaze of gore, dispatching Russian security agents without breaking a sweat and almost assassinating the Russian President. Spared execution by President Alison Taylor, Jack heard ever-faithful Chloe O’Brian tell him to leave the country, as he’s done before. I’m assuming he will leave, friendless, left only to his own devices and isolated in his own grief in life.
Another man of action ended a blood-soaked episode in similar psychological circumstances. This man sat in a dark study, alone, pondering his supreme success in his business and the utter wreckage of his life. That man was Michael Corleone at the end of Godfather II.
As Jack (and, especially, the team now crafting the 24 movie) ponders his next move, he can do well to consider Michael’s missteps once he left that dark study. The long-distance sequel Godfather III gave the world one great line – “Just when I thought I was out . . . they pull me back in.” – and the inert acting of Sophia Coppola. The movie showed some of the psychological pain of Michael as he dealt with his crimes, such as killing brother Fredo, but ultimately it centered on mayhem rather than the aftermath of a life ill-spent after an honorable beginning. The movie moved tantalizing close to the right direction, but the task fell to Tony Soprano to become the reluctant and resistant analysand in The Sopranos, tangling with Dr. Melfi as death, senility, and betrayal shrank his circle as surely as Jack and Michael saw their webs of human connections disintegrate.
Despite the glaring difference in career paths between Jack, the avenging sword of American justice, and Tony and Michael, gangsters pursuing power and material ends, the men share some traits. None of them do very well with female relationships; Jack's Teri and Michael's Apollonia both were murdered. All live by their own moral codes, employing violence to reach desired ends. All inspire loyalty from subordinates, even as they kill or order the killings of friends and subordinates. Tony kills Big Pussy, Michael kills Fredo, Jack kills CTU's Ryan Chappelle.
Still, the men are different, and Jack can learn from the experiences of the other members of this peculiar fraternity. I’m hoping that Jack eschews the Michael/Godfather III route and opts more for Tony Soprano. The worst move would be for Jack to do a middling spy actioner that’s more John Travolta’s From Paris With Love than The Bourne Identity. The 24 franchise has eight seasons of loyal fans, killings, connivings, conspiracies, and completely exhausted plot elements to build on. The fastest way to make the first 24 movie the only 24 movie would be to rehash the same concepts on a bigger screen and be freed from the 24-hour concept. As a fan who has seen 99 percent of the episodes, the last things I want to get in a 24 movie are: