Written by Duppy Demetrius
Directed by Jon Cassar
Original Air Date: 2nd December 2003
In an era where green screen work and digital environments have taken over so much of the filmmaking language, there is something very refreshing whenever you see a feature film or television series accomplish something with in-camera effects and production values.
The big draw to the sixth episode of 24’s third season is the incredible chase sequence right at the heart of its story. The season might only be six episodes in, but the helicopter chase that launches the episode and which dominates the events of the hour is so spectacular because it’s been done, astonishingly, for real.
In a day and age of streaming and physical media becoming less of a priority to television and film studios, it’s a pleasure to go back to the third season DVD box set of 24 and see the fantastic behind the scenes documentary that follows Jon Cassar during the production of both this and preceding episode.
Even more fantastic is that the sequence was done in the early 2000s. 24 was in the midst of the early onslaught of what is frequently dubbed ‘cinematic television’ and it was usually listed amongst those earlier groundbreaking shows because of an episode like this.
So far the third season has been on blisteringly good form, reformatting the nuclear bomb plot and geopolitical concerns of last season into a yarn involving drug lords and bio-warfare, but what hasn’t changed is the characteristic intensity of the series and it’s ability to twist and turn into turbo-charged directions.
Jack’s actions have seen him seemingly make the sacrificial move so our beloved President doesn’t have to make the tough choice to negotiate with terrorists, and while one gets the sense the writers have a way out for Jack when it comes to eventually going back to CTU (I’ll explore that more with the next two episodes which play that card and did so to a somewhat polarizing reaction at the time), it’s hard to be thinking about the future when everyone involved here delivers some astonishing visually driven action as depicted here.
This is 24 in grandiose action movie mode, with sweeping shots of helicopters chasing one another over the LA skyline, a reminder once again of just how much LA was a character in itself on the show. There is a lot of running for Jack, Ramon and Chase, and even more upheaval at CTU as Ryan Chapelle shows up and reminds us of just how of an ass he is by not only wanting to eagerly shoot Jack’s chopper down, but in being somewhat cavalier towards Kim’s wellbeing.
It’s the first five star classic of the season, a pocket action movie of incredible suspense and scale, and while the next episode will be somewhat more contained within interior spaces, it’s about to kick the season into a somewhat different gear and with it a twist that’s about to show just how daringly experimental a lot of this stage of the season has been from the writers.