Kiefer Sutherland’s Thrilling New Film: Rabbit Hole — Even Wilder Than 24
At this stage in his career, the quality of Kiefer Sutherland's projects doesn't really influence anything. His devoted fanbase would happily watch anything he's in, given the fact that he inevitably has that weathered, hurried look, and the trademark muttering. Is this a subtle indication that I miss 24? Yes, indeed it is.
The latest thriller, Rabbit Hole, is a welcome addition to the genre for fans of the likes of 24. John Weir, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is a corporate espionage expert who is thrown into a perilous conspiracy. Fans of the style that 24 offers will recognise the presence of shadowy figures, characters with earpieces in high-stakes situations, and moments where Sutherland desperately shouts 'NO!' but is still unable to prevent disaster. This may be familiar territory, but it is welcomed with open arms by thriller fans.
Kiefer Sutherland's character in Rabbit Hole is initially presented as a granite-jawed spy trying to avoid disaster. The first episode follows him as he suspiciously looks over his shoulder and attempts to manage crisis after crisis. Viewers may start to become comfortable with the show, as if it were any other network drama about a complex hero. Nevertheless, the show veers off in an unexpected direction and quickly becomes surreal.
Sutherland concludes the inaugural instalment careening between a multitude of outlandish catastrophes that it comes across as a highbrow drama version of Mr Bean. The initial episodes had provided clues that this was the direction it was going - the introduction finishes with Sutherland in a confessional, vociferously asking "God? Maybe he can tell me WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!!!", leaving a clearly startled priest behind - but everything is then ramped up to surrealism. And it's worth it.
Unlike 24, which had its share of absurd plot elements, Rabbit Hole appears to be deliberately doing all its crazy things for the sake of entertainment. Consequently, Sutherland seems to be having a good time with his portrayal of Weir, a character who is far from the traditional hero archetype. Weir isn't simply a powerful force or a wise mentor; he's filled with frustration and confusion, and even gets into arguments with teenagers he runs into. Not to mention, who else can say they've been filmed jumping into a Christmas tree, other than Sutherland?
Charles Dance, widely recognized from his prosthetic work in a flashback, and Donald Sutherland team up with a spectacularly capable cast to make the show come alive. Meta Golding, having previously featured in the Hunger Games series, shines in her role as a character between hostage and love interest. She energizes each scene with her enthusiasm and charisma, forming a spark between her and Dance as well as Sutherland unlike any other. Golding turns out to be an astounding find.
If one were to express a critique of Rabbit Hole, it may be said that it struggles to define what it wants to be. There are parts that are more light-hearted, while others find the movie delving deep into action-thriller territory. Its central theme – a plan to ruin the US by weakening its system of government – has the potential to make a real statement about the world, yet it can come across as disjointed. It almost appears as if Rabbit Hole was originally designed as one thing, but in its transformation has been adjusted to fit the expectations of all involved, making it an occasionally incoherent watch.
At its peak, Rabbit Hole is a comedic version of the TV show 24. If a second season is in the works, then the focus for it should be to ensure that all of the funny moments are maximized. With a few tweaks, the show could be improved upon to elevate it from a great comedy to an even greater one.