Is 24's Jack Bauer the Greatest TV Action Hero of All Time?

Go down



default Is 24's Jack Bauer the Greatest TV Action Hero of All Time?

Is 24's Jack Bauer the Greatest TV Action Hero of All Time?

To borrow a phrase, I come not to bury Jack Bauer but to praise him. When I heard about Kiefer Sutherland's surgery last week and the temporary shutdown of 24's production, it was a reminder how nothing lasts forever—with the possible exception of a conversation between two Lost fans at Comic Con.

Sure, it sounds like a temporary setback for Sutherland, but that ruptured kidney cyst made me stop and realize just how good he has been in this role. For all of 24's innovations, from its real-time format to its (once) distinctive use of split screens, if you don't believe in Jack, you don't believe in the show. And while part of the sport of 24 is cherry picking its often implausible details and scenarios, Jack Bauer (with the possible exception of his eyewear choice when he went undercover a few episodes ago) remains largely above criticism. He's never the weak link.

A few provisos: I am decidedly old school in my take and inclined to put sci-fi characters into an altogether separate category. I also hold to minimum Hall-of-Fame-credentials standards, meaning that I expect my characters to have held their roles for at least five years. Steroid/HGH use is another issue entirely.

So let's be civil, shall we? This isn't Congress, you know. Here is a list of Jack's attributes, to serve as a starting point:

He's Got The Initials: James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Bauer. That's pretty good company right there.

He's Smart: Brawn will help you kill people, but brains will keep you from getting killed. Jack knows his aircraft, his computers, his gadgets, and his weaponry. But he's also politically savvy—the smartest guy in the room and the first to untangle the conspiracies that others are liable to miss. Micro and macro, Jack stays ahead of the action and rarely gets taken by surprise.

He's Tortured: Great heroes are typically haunted and motivated by a series of life events that have delivered them to the place where they end up being challenged. Being physically tortured is part of Jack's job description, but the pain he has endured at the hands of a world-class assortment of bad guys is matched by the emotional turmoil in his life: Jack's wife was murdered and his relationship with Nina Myers turned out to be a sham. Dad was a criminal master mind, killed Jack's evil brother, and took Jack's nephew hostage. Plus, until she grew up a bit, his daughter Kim made more bad decisions than a lesser Kardashian on roofies. As Dr. Freud might inquire, "So Jack, how does all that make you feel?"

He Tortures: For a Berkeley guy, Jack sure isn't afraid of a little extralegal action every now and again (and again and again). We'll leave the broader constitutional questions raised by 24 to Jack's fellow Berkeleyite John Yoo (one of the authors of the memos that allowed "enhanced interrogation techniques") and the ACLU to fight over. But in the unreal world of television, we like our heroes to do what is necessary to get the job done. Jack gets the job done.

He Looks Good in a Leather Jacket: An absolute requirement for action heroes. But you don't want to look too good. No pretty boys allowed.

He Plays High-Stakes Games: Jack is in the big leagues: presidential assassinations, nukes, jumbo-jets crashes, biological warfare, White House hostage crises. Literally and figuratively, you want him to take the last shot.

Who Else Would Play Him? Consider it a tribute to Kiefer Sutherland that it's virtually impossible to imagine anyone else in this role. And when I pondered alternate casting and asked some other 24 fans this question, the name that came up was invariably Steve McQueen. Steve McQueen!

With all that said, do you think Jack Bauer is the greatest action hero in the history of television? Discuss.

Number of posts : 2127
Age : 33
Location : USA
Registration date : 2008-01-06

View user profile

Back to top Go down

- Similar topics
Share this post on: diggdeliciousredditstumbleuponslashdotyahoogooglelive

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum