Jack Bauer has his hands full as CIA agents hunt him down in London, even as he's trying to save the president of the United States from international terrorists.
So what else is new? Not much, it turns out.
"24: Live Another Day" may have suffered more from its reliance on repetition if it had aired immediately following the eighth season of "24" back in 2010. But after a four-year break, the show's familiar devices — split screens, interwoven story lines, intense violence, shady villains — make for a nice return trip down Apocalypse Lane.
There are also some friendly faces in the crowd. William Devane returns as James Heller, who has gotten both the presidency and Alzheimer's since we saw him last. Exactly how the latter condition might play into the action is one of the more intriguing questions of the 12-hour season. Kim Raver reprises her role as Heller's daughter, who got over her doomed relationship with Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) by hooking up with the chief of staff (Tate Donovan).
One trademark that's not so welcome is the warmed-over dialogue. Sutherland is working too hard to have to mutter such clichéd lines as "I don't have any friends" or "There's no going back for me." It's only a matter of time before Bauer spits out, "I'm getting too old for this."
Actually, Sutherland hasn't missed a beat. Despite his slight frame and 47 years of age, he still seems fully capable of taking on six assailants at once and outrunning a hail of bullets. The smartest twist in the two-hour premiere is to keep Bauer silent for nearly 40 minutes, building the intensity for both the character and viewers.
"24: Live Another Day" may not be as clever as some of the high-octane dramas that have come to cable since "24" premiered, but it is nice to see an old friend, even if it means putting him through the wringer once again.