Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch, Brad Renfro, Daniel Craig, Steven Mackintosh, Brendan Coyle
Tom Bleecker (story), Marc Rocco (story), Massy Tadjedin
When you die, all you want to do is come back.
Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody stars as a Gulf War veteran wrongly accused of murder, and subsequently committed to a mental institution. A controversial treatment regimen sends him on a mind-bending journey into the future, where he can foresee his death - and must try to stop it. Also stars Keira Knightley, Daniel Craig, Golden Globe-nominated Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch and Kris Kristofferson.
$2.723 million on 1331 screens.
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 103 min.
Release Date: 6/21/2005
• “The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes” Featurette
• “The Look of The Jacket” Special Effects Featurette
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Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.
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The Jacket (2005)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 23, 2005)
Oscar paradox: while the careers of established actors who win Academy Awards often prosper after that triumph, lesser-known performers who take home the prize usually do little to capitalize on their newfound success. In other words, the actors who need the boost the most get the least from it.
The newest addition to this list? Adrien Brody, the winner of the Best Actor Oscar for 2002’s The Pianist. So far he’s not done much to capitalize on his Academy Award success, though I get the feeling he’s not tried too hard. After The Pianist, Brody avoided lead roles until 2005’s The Jacket. He played a prominent role in 2004’s The Village but definitely wasn’t the main character.
Maybe Brody will reach a mass audience with Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong. The Jacket flopped and certainly did little to make him a household name. For once, the American public showed good taste, as The Jacket deserved to stiff.
After a shot to the head, Sgt. Jack Starks (Brody) apparently dies during the Iraqi conflict in 1991. However, reports of his demise seem premature, as the DOA soldier comes back to life. The flick jumps ahead 12 months and finds Starks in Vermont. He wanders the roads and runs into strung-out Jean Price (Kelly Lynch) and her daughter Jackie (Laura Marano) stuck on the shoulder due to a conked-out truck. Jack bonds with the girl while he works on the vehicle and allows her to have his dog tags.
With that, the vagabond veteran hits the road, and he soon hitches a ride with a stranger (Brad Renfro). When a cop pulls over the station wagon, the film skips to a courtroom setting in which an amnesiac Starks tries to piece together what happened after that. We see that someone killed the cop but there’s little evidence of anyone else’s involvement.
Jack ends up in a facility for the criminally insane. After a while there, he finds himself on the end of an uncomfortable and odd experiment: the physicians pump him full of drugs and then stick him in a morgue drawer. He seems to experience some brief flashbacks while there but nothing concrete materializes.
Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson) spearheads the “treatment” as a way to fix Jack’s alleged violent tendencies. After one session, Jack apparently finds himself outside a small motel on Christmas Eve. A woman (Keira Knightley) takes pity on him and gives him a life and shelter. After he bonds a bit with the depressed girl, she falls asleep and he looks around the place. To his shock, he finds his old dog tags, the ones he gave to Jackie.
The woman turns out to be Jackie as an adult, and he finds out it’s currently 2007, 15 years later than he thinks it is. Jackie also delivers the news that Jack Starks apparently died on New Year’s Day 1993. Jack finds out that he can use the “treatment” as a way to travel through time and learn more about events related to his death. Jackie eventually helps him in this endeavor, as does Dr. Beth Lorenson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a staff member at the hospital who tries to help Babak Yazdi (Angelo Andreou), the severely disabled son of a friend. The movie follows Jack’s various quests and relationships.
As I watched The Jacket, I waited for the movie to grab a hold of me and take me somewhere. And I waited. And waited. And waited a little more.
I stopped waiting when the end credits ran. When you watch the DVD’s extras, you learn about all sorts of character and story nuances. These make the movie sound really rich and involving. Too bad virtually none of those elements manifest themselves on the screen.
The Jacket presents an awfully convoluted story that takes a long time to go anywhere. Actually, I’m not sure it ever does reach any form of destination other than those aforementioned end credits, but I suppose it fulfills some sort of goal by its conclusion. I simply find it tough to figure out where it arrived and what goal it achieved.
This becomes a disappointment because The Jacket boasts a decent premise somewhere under all the muck. As I mentioned, the extras give us the impression there’s a tight thriller on display, and the concept has potential. Indeed, with all the questions the story creates, the film could turn into something layered and involving.
Emphasis on the could since it never does. The loose premise loses us well before it really starts to evolve. Sometimes I worry that I come down too hard on movies that take time to explain themselves. However, I think the problem stems from ill-defined films that never intrigue us. Stories that take their time are fine as long as they create a world that interests us. For instance, Alien expends almost half its running time before the action begins. Since it develops a rich, full universe, this period is well-spent and ensures that the flick’s second half will work even better.
That doesn’t occur in the leisurely Jacket. It doesn’t use the first half to build its world. Instead, it simply ambles along without much meat. The second half’s twists come too late and are too feeble to redeem the prior material.
This means Jacket comes across as a weird combination of supernatural thriller and Seventies exposé on abuses at psychiatric hospitals. Eventually it turns into a lame touchy-feely Lifetime movie with “clever” twists that exist for no reason other than to make us think the film’s smarter than it is.
Don’t fall for it. With a thin story and lackluster characters, The Jacket collapses under the weight of its flimsiness. The movie packages uncompelling twists without much to tie them together, and this makes it slow-paced and tedious.
The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+
The Jacket appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie never exhibited exceptional visuals, but it presented a generally positive impression.
For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. Some softness crept in at times, but not with any real frequency. Instead, most of the flick appeared well defined and detailed. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, but some mild to moderate edge enhancement popped up periodically throughout the movie. Print flaws seemed absent, as I noted no signs of specks, marks, or other defects.
As with every other edgy supernatural thriller made these days, Jacket went with a restricted palette. A few scenes exhibited more defined colors, but most of the shots offered very subdued tones. The DVD replicated them with acceptable accuracy. Blacks looked deep and full, but shadows were less consistent. The low-light shots could appear somewhat thick and murky. Ultimately, the picture of The Jacket seemed more than acceptable, but it never threatened to turn into anything greater than that.
I found the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Jacket to offer a satisfying piece, though it didn’t offer a great amount of ambition. The soundfield came to life most actively during only a few occasions. It emphasized the impact of Jack’s “treatment” well, and it also used the rear speakers effectively for the Iraq sequence. Outside of those situations, the mix stayed fairly subdued. It offered nice stereo imaging for music and a general sense of ambience, but not much more than that.
Audio quality appeared solid. Speech consistently came across as natural and concise, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music seemed clear and vivid, as the score presented firm tones. Effects also appeared clean and accurate. They suffered from no distortion and boasted fine bass response during the louder sequences. In the end, the audio of The Jacket served the movie fairly well.
In addition to the film’s trailer, the DVD includes two featurettes. The more substantial of the pair comes first via the 28-minute and 14-second The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes. This presents movie clips, behind the scenes shots, and remarks from director John Maybury, screenwriter Massy Tadjedin, production designer Alan MacDonald, executive producer Ben Cosgrove, and actors Adrien Brody, and Keira Knightley. In between these elements, it intersperses 13 deleted scenes.
The documentary portions cover the film’s origins, revising the script, cut sequences, casting, characters and the actors’ approaches to their roles, the film’s visual style and sets, and shooting the love scene. A lot of good information pops up here, and we get a fairly frank discussion of issues. For example, we learn of Maybury’s strong initial resistance to the casting of Knightley.
The 13 deleted scenes include three alternate endings. Those are the most interesting, mainly because they cast the conclusion in various different lights. The others tend to be more expository and less intriguing.
I can’t say I care for the format of this show, though. The documentary segments are good, and it’s fun to see the deleted scenes, but why mix them in together? The cut sequences pop up out of nowhere and disrupt the flow of the documentary. They’d have worked better in a separate area.
Next we find the nine-minute The Look of The Jacket. This includes remarks from Maybury, visual effects supervisor Frazer Churchill, and artist in residence Rhian Nicholas. It goes over influences, the approach to the visual effects, and various avant garde techniques. Despite the show’s brevity, it provides a distinctive examination of the movie’s more unusual visuals. We get lots of good notes about the various methods in this tight piece.
When the DVD opens, it comes with some ads. We get trailers for House of Wax, Constantine, Eros and A Scanner Darkly.
Somewhere buried under the muck, The Jacket includes a good story idea or two. Unfortunately, the movie tells its muddled tale in such a confused and plodding manner that it never threatens to connect with the audience. The DVD gives us good picture and audio. Only a few supplements appear, but they add to the experience. Too bad the flick they support is so boring.
Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1538 Stars
| Number of Votes: 26