The Jackal
Dir: Michael Caton-Jones
Star: Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Diane Venora, Sidney Poitier
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1997
Format: DVD R2

After the brother of prominent a Russian mafia boss is killed by a joint law enforcement agency operation in Russia. A vengeful mafia hire the "greatest" and world renowned / feared assassin, known only as "the Jackal" (Bruce Willis). An elusive, mysterious and deadly killer whose identity is unknown by the world's law enforcement agencies. Learning of the sanction given to the "Jackal" the FBI headed by deputy director Carter Preston (Sidney Poitier) and his Russian counterpart Major Koslova (Diane Venora) begin a seemingly impossible search for a faceless killer who is going to kill a prominent government official. The only ally they have is Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere) an imprisoned IRA sniper who is allegedly the only man who has seen him. Now the deputy director must make a huge gamble and trust one killer to help stop and bring down another in a tense game of cat and mouse.

Yet another remake / reworking of a classic movie. The Jackal is "based upon" the 1973 classic Day of The Jackal directed by Fred Zinnemann and taken from the Frederick Forsyth novel. This time around however, the story is bastardised by the heavy handed screenplay of Chuck Pfarrer ( Hard Target). As a remake The Jackal is awful, as a reworking it is somewhere between poor to terrible and as a film it is banal and unimpressive. This is evidently one story that should have been left well alone by Hollywood.

Implausible, unrealistic and rather uninteresting, The Jackal is an average film on pretty much every level as it misses a lot of potential and sinks into Hollywood pretentiousness. There is plenty of oversized impractical weaponry and some very dubious logistics indeed. The major protagonists of the hapless Russian mafia & equally dim / slow witted FBI which leaves the film as a tenuous battle of "wits" between the intellectually ill equipped Irish man and what you would expect to be a mustard keen and razor sharp "Jackal". Unfortunately in this incarnation the "Jackal" is American and a bit too camp, not so much as a cloak and dagger ruthless killer as "Inspector Clouseau" with a whole suitcase of elaborate disguises and managing to be about as menacing as a tulip. The characters are overrall unbelievable, trite and poorly developed, only the "Jackal" has any semblence of personality or clout. But with an established character, which was so brilliantly portrayed by Edward Fox in the original Day of the Jackal which in reality does work considerably better. The Jackal just doesn't work as an American and is unbelievable. Trust Hollywood to try and make a menacing and capable hitman story American, with the standard ingredients of big explosions, flagwaving and terrible accents. As if that wasn't bad enough, it even manages a couple of poor CGI moments as well.

The direction of Michael Caton-Jones has one or two good moments, but continuity is woefully sacrificed and there are plenty of gaffs or goofs to amuse the more discerning viewer. Overrall however the film is lacking atmosphere and is rather formulaic and full of plot holes which are the direct result of Hollywood tampering. Some painfully wooden performances here and there which are worsened by a generally poor script. Just why exactly a feared and experienced professional hitman would opt to use a cumbersome, automatic anti-tank gatlin gun for a hit as opposed to a more personal and practical sniper weapon we will never know, but it did seem to afford the film makers an excuse to have lots of explosions.

The award for the cheesiest accent has to go to Richard Gere for his painfully wavering Irish drawl which is only equalled in awfulness by his actual "acting" performance. Bruce Willis appears more like "James Bond" than a hired killer and whoops it up a bit as the direction ensures that whenever he turns his head (menacingly presumably) it is in slow motion. Other than a general camp chessiness to his performance, Willis is not a terrible "bad guy" character, but it would be nice to see more of him in this type of role..... because he evidently needs a lot more experience.

There really aren't many redeeming features to this film and it is hard going for the most part. I hate to say that there are wooden supporting performances by Mathilda May and Diane Venora and for most of the cast they just don't gel. Academy award winning actor Sidney Poitier looks uncomfortable in his role and may well want to forget this episode in his long and otherwise impressive career. To be brutally honest if you want to see a good hitman movie then take a look at either the original Day of the Jackal or even better, Leon (AKA - The Professional) starring Jean Reno as both are far superior to this motion picture carbuncle. Typical degeneration and ruination of the cinematic art, as originality is sacrificed to "cash in" on someone elses good work.

Switch off your brain before you start and this is a mildly entertaining film. Not particuarly thrilling but watchable in a no brain kind of way. For anyone who has read the book, steer clear of this film as it will bear no resemblence to the story and is essentially quite mediocre.


How do you stop an assassin who has no identity?

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 1:2.35 Anamorphic Pretty good quality picture
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Nothing outstanding but good quality mix.
Features Dull "Making of" documentary
Deleted Scenes, Alternate ending.
Sleep inducing commentary track by director Michael Caton-Jones
Static production notes
Theatrical trailer
Cast & Film maker biographies
Verdict Not a bad disc and the few extras are reasonable but there is nothing to really grab you or just captivate you as a viewer. There are better discs out there.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home