Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody and latest It Girl Keira Knightley star in "The Jacket," a sci-fi thriller eerily reminiscent of last year's "The Butterfly Effect." Those who didn't like the Ashton Kutcher mind-bender should avoid this one at all costs, and the few who did like "The Butterfly Effect" will be disappointed by this lackluster entry.
"The Jacket" stars Brody as Jack Starks, a soldier who fought in the first Gulf War only to get shot in the head by a scared Iraqi boy. Disoriented, Jack finds himself wandering about the United States... until he gets picked up by a fugitive, blamed for a police shooting and sentenced to involuntary incarceration in a mental hospital. There, he finds himself under the supervision of Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson) who begins to conduct experimental procedures on him - namely injecting him with drugs, restraining him in a straight jacket and placing him in a confined space. The result is what you'd expect - Jack's mind is able to travel forward in time to the year of 2007, a convenient year since the girl played by Knightley is just at the ripe age to make love to. Oh, and he also finds out that he is going to die on New Year's Day 1993, which is only a couple days away.
As with most time travel movies, "The Jacket" has an interesting concept, but, like most time travel movies, it fails to capitalize on that concept. The premise is interesting but ultimately fails to give the audience a satisfying plot. I can get over the fact that it's never explained how Jack is able to travel into the future, but not enough happens in the story to explain why we should care.
The movie itself is only so-so, featuring bland direction by John Maybury, a man who, to no surprise, has no major movies to his name. "The Jacket" is full of fast, dream-like images, but any high school student could compile a similar montage. The rest of the movie also lacks any kind of distinct direction, something I feel is needed to make the most of any time travel plot. From the first minute I could tell "The Jacket" was going to be a disappointment.
Still, bad direction can be overlooked with a good script, but unfortunately "The Jacket" doesn't have one. The biggest hole comes from the relationship between Knightley and Brody - it doesn't make any sense. The first night they meet, Knightley, a beautiful young woman, lets Brody, a homeless stranger, into her home and he proceeds to try and convince her that he is a man who died fourteen years ago. She kicks him out. The next day, she suddenly believes him and proceeds to sleep with him. Her character makes no sense and I didn't buy it for a second.
What really kills "The Jacket" is the ending. While the rest of the movie is mediocre, it is mildly entertaining, but the ending could have made it something. Unfortunately, "The Jacket" lacks any kind of exciting, intriguing or inventive ending, which makes me ask the question why did I bother watching in the first place?
"The Jacket" is an entirely watchable film, but to what end? This movie will come and go from theaters without anyone noticing, and for good reason.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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