Monday, November 14, 2005


Adrien Brody The Jacket Movie Directed by John Maybury
Starring Adrien Brody
Reviewed by Byron Merritt
Jack Starks is in the Gulf War when he receives a serious head wound from a gunshot. Initially presumed dead, a nurse suddenly realizes he's still alive when he blinks. His body is saved, but his mind is still severely traumatized. Rocked with distortions of time and events, Jack struggles to become a normal member of Amercian society upon release from the military hospital.

But things quickly go strangely awry for Jack. While hitchhiking across the U.S. he runs into a mother and daughter sitting alongside the road next to their broken down truck. The daughter, a sweet young girl, helps Jack fix the truck while the girl's drugged-out mother pukes in the bushes nearby. After the truck is started, the mother pushes past Jack, inserts her daughter into the truck, and abruptly and rudely leaves.

Then Jack gets picked up by a young man in a station wagon who ends up killing a cop while Jack is traveling with him, and since Jack can't remember a lot of things (remember, he's got some brain damage from the gunshot wound to his head), he's arrested and sent to an asylum for the criminally insane run by actor
Kris Kristofferson.

During all of this there are fragments of Jack's mind that seep onto the screen in very surreal ways (punctuations of color, blast pieces of the war, etc.), and Jack's not all that sure WHEN he is. Is it 1992?

In a brutal method to try and "help" Jack, Kristofferson's character drugs him and places him in a straight jacket then into a morgue box for isolation. During these "sessions", Jack seems to travel into the future. To 2007 to be exact. But why? Apparently this time holds some significance and the audience is slowly let in on it as the film progresses. In 2007, he meets up with the same young girl turned young woman that he'd met alongside the road years before and helped get their truck started. A race to save those that he loves in the past soon takes place from what he learns in the future. But is it all real, or is it just another fracture in his mind?


This film has been SERIOUSLY MISLABELED as a thriller. It is not a thriller or even a horror-stylized film. If you had to categorize it, I'd say it's a Sci Fi Drama. Even the insipid tagline for the film, "Terror has a new name," is horribly misleading.

In the vein of
MOMENTO and THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, this film has a lot going for it, even above those two other movies (which I also enjoyed by the way). But where THE JACKET succeeds is in coherency, while MOMENTO and THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT kind of left me wanting.

The acting was also stellar. Keira Knightley (PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN and BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM) plays the young woman who Jack meets in 2007 and begins to believe that he may very well be time-traveling. I never thought Knightley could perform in such a starkly different role than the upbeat films I've seen her in, but she does so very admirably here. Adrien Brody (THE PIANIST) plays the lead role of Jack Starks and does so with understated grace. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kris Kristofferson, and Brad Renfro all pull in strong supporting roles, too.

So if you're not a big thriller fan, don't worry about it. Pick up this film and enjoy it.


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