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The JACKET (R) (2005)

Warner Independent Pictures and Mandalay Pictures

Official Site

Director: John Maybury

Producers: Peter Guber, George Clooney and Stephen Soderbergh

Written by: Massy Tadjedin, from a story by Tom Bleecker and Marc Rocco

Cast: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch, Brad Renfro, Daniel Craig


Isn’t Adrien Brody supposed to be the “It Boy”? After an incredible breakout performance in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam in 1999, his performance in The Pianist garnered him an Academy Award™ for Best Actor two years ago; he beat out Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, and Nicholas Cage. Since then, everyone has been singing his huzzahs, and one could be forgiven for thinking that the vast number of projects being thrown at him would permit the actor a certain degree of choosiness with regard to where he practices his craft. But after The Village and now The Jacket, I can only hope Mr. Brody is saving his money.

The film finds Jack Starks (Brody) a soldier in the first Gulf War in the early nineties. After being shot in the head and contracting amnesia, Jack heads to Vermont, for reasons unexplained to the viewer. After helping a mother (Lynch) and her little girl with some car trouble, he keeps moving, hitching for a ride. After having the bad luck to ride shotgun with a stranger (Renfro) who kills a police officer, Jack is picked up for the crime and, because of his amnesia, sentenced to a mental institution.

Upon arriving in the hospital, Jack makes the acquaintance of one Dr. Becker (Kristofferson), who subjects unwilling patients to an experimental treatment. The regimen consists of being pumped full of drugs, put in a straitjacket, and left in a morgue drawer unattended for several hours. Though the nefarious doctor mumbles some nonsense about why such a procedure might free up Jack’s memories, and Becker’s antagonistic colleague, Dr. Lorenson (Leigh) questions his methods, it is terribly unclear why anyone could possibly think such an experience could help a mentally unbalanced patient. What is even more poorly explained, however, are the reasons for what actually does occur in the drawer: Jack is transported some 15 years into the future, where he meets Jackie (Knightley), the older version of the young girl whose truck he fixed at the beginning of the film.

In 2007, Jack learns of the future consequences of any number of events in his own 1993 universe. Various shady dealings are taking place at the mental hospital, and the lives of Jackie and her mother are heading down the wrong path. As he races back and forth in time to try to right various wrongs, The Jacket begins to resemble a needlessly convoluted episode of “Quantum Leap,” with Brody as Sam to Knightley’s Al.

As unappetizing as that characterization may sound, the film would be lucky to merit it: One would gladly exchange “Quantum Leap’s” gee-whiz moralism for the stale impenetrability of The Jacket. It is impossible not to drown in the sheer inanity and confusion of this film. The Jacket is insipid as a love story, impenetrable as a sci-fi time-travel adventure, and completely implausible as a muckraking exposé on the treatment of the mentally ill. The Jacket tries to be all of those things at once, and fails at each task so miserably and spectacularly that it is impossible to recommend this movie to anyone.

—Mike O’Connor

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

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