Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2005
Directed by
John Maybury
102 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

The Jacket

Synopsis: Jack Starks (Adrien Brody), a veteran of the Gulf War, hitches a ride that ends up with him being convicted of murder and being sent to the Alpine Grove Psychiatric Hospital for the criminally insane. He knows he's not a murderer and that he's not insane but how does he get anyone to believe him?

The idea of someone travelling back in time to change the future is a popular one in film, particularly comedies, It's A Wonderful Life (1946) and Back To The Future (1986) being well known examples. The comedy genre (and science fiction also) freely permits such making merry with chronological reality. Although John Maybury's film is a dark psychological thriller it too is based on this non-realistic back-and-forth device. Endowing the thriller aspect with a sci-fi flavour is not a bad idea, but Maybury does not get it to work, the film being generally unsatisfying and in places downright annoying. Made under the banner of Warner independent with Peter Guber, George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh as producers, it has a high level of finish but there is something sloppy about the way it has been put together, its various elements never cohering into a convincing whole. Partly this can be blamed on the director, partly on the script by Massy Tadjedin and partly on the casting and acting.

Things start to niggle from the outset when in an early pivotal scene Jack is helping a woman and her little girl by getting their car started after it has stalled on a snowbound country road. There's a long shot of the car with the door wide open, then a mid-shot of the little girl approaching the car with the door partly shut, then another long shot with the door wide open again. Then there's the glibness with which Jack gets the car started. Twiddle, twiddle by Jack and the car springs into life. Then shortly after there's another long shot of him talking through the passenger window to the driver of a car about to pick him up. There's a cut to him getting in the car and the window is closed. who shut the window? Who let this stuff go by?

Glibness eats away at the virtues of this film like dry rot (the only exception being Brian Eno's score). This is most noticeable at the level of the relationship between Jack and Jackie (Keira Knightley), the aforementioned little girl, now some 15 years older and a considerable babe (of course). There's a scene in which Jackie, supposedly a hard-nosed single girl, tells Jack to butt out of her life. This looks like it's going to develop into something but not only is it excruciatingly hackneyed in writing and performance, particularly by Ms Knightley, the next day or shortly thereafter, she does an attitudinal about-turn. And even more than becoming his instant girlfriend (lucky Jack) but she's some kind of supersleuth and turns up all kinds of plot-developing information before you can whistle Dixie. And that's leaving aside the fact that in the intial rejecting scene which is set in 2007, she knew that Jack had died on January 1, 1993 (see the film and you'll understand). She didn't strike me as the kind of girl who assiduously followed the news. But there you go. Sure! Thrillers often rely on convenient devices to move the story forward but this is just too easy. And whilst we are nitpicking, why do both Jack and Jackie look exactly the same in 2007 as they do in 1993, bar, at best, Jack's raffishly gelled hair?

Adrien Brody whose Oscar for The Pianist has pigeon-holed him in doleful soul parts is reminiscent of a parlour version of Christian Bale in The Machinist with a twist of "little boy lost" charm, whilst Keira Knightley is as photogenic as Kris Kristofferson, bizarrely cast as a mad scientist, is not, but no more. There are moments when their collective performance suggest that they might be quite good in a romantic comedy or a B grade horror film . With this material they are simply unconvincing. Only Jennifer Jason Leigh brings anything of interest to the screen, or perhaps that's just me. If you bought a jacket that was this badly made, chances are you'd be taking it back for a refund.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst