After recuperating from a gunshot wound to the head, Gulf War veteran Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) returns to his native Vermont. After helping a mother and her daughter with a broken down car, he hitches a ride with a stranger, but after an incident he loses consciousness. When he comes to, he is accused of murdering a police officer, despite pleading amnesia. He is committed to an institution for the criminally insane, where Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson), puts him on a controversial treatment in which Starks is injected with experimental drugs, confined in a straight-jacket and locked for extended periods in the body drawer of the basement morgue. In his drugged and traumatised state, Starks' mind propels him into the future, where he meets Jackie (Keira Knightley) - the young girl he helped by the roadside more than a dozen years earlier, now grown up - and discovers through her that he is destined to die in four days.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The Jacket is really a ghost story, but it is told as if the filmmakers want to defy the implausibility of ghosts by turning the ghost story structure inside out. It doesn't wash - they just end up with hogwash. We meet Jack Starks as the good guy GI in the Gulf War, trying to be nice to a local kid, who thanks him for the gesture by shooting him in the head. The opening sequence is supposed to show the chaos of war, but it's so overdone as to be silly and visually irritating. Here's the first clue to the rest of the film; it never misses an opportunity to bludgeon its points home and its characters into a shapeless mess.
It's not enough that Kris Kristofferson plays misguided psychiatrist Dr Becker, whose practices (even back in the early 1990s when he is supposed to be practicing them) would have seen him in jail - or in his own nut house. He has to overact and play Becker like a real mean son of a bitch, a boo hiss villain with no redeeming qualities (and no discernible qualifications, to my mind). Likewise every other character, cut out of cardboard, and saved from total derision only by dedicated professionalism by the cast. As the decent, reasonable and humane medical counterweight to Dr Becker, Jennifer Jason Leigh redeems every scene she is in, and Keira Knightly does the best she can with her truncated character, while Adrian Brody plays the victim, both physical and psychological, to evoke as much sympathy as possible. This is the prime currency of this lead-footed and clumsy film's emotional language.
Compounded by Stark tinkering with the future, the film's silliness is wearisome. The brutal conditions at the mental institution (straight out of the book of movie clichees), and the pointlessness of the whole scenario are made further ridiculous by the ending, in which the filmmakers hedge their bets and combine the present with the future so there can be a 'ride into the sunset' sort of closing scene. But - good cinematography notwithstanding - it's still just hogwash.
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JACKET, THE (MA)
CAST: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch, Brad Renfro, Laura Marano, Daniel Craig
PRODUCER: George Clooney, Peter Guber, Steven Soderbergh
DIRECTOR: John Maybury
SCRIPT: Massy Tadjedin (story by Tom Bleecker, Marc Rocco)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Deming
EDITOR: Emma E. Hickox
MUSIC: Brian Eno
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alan MacDonald
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 11, 2005