Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Additional Scenes and Alternate
Endings. 'The Jacket': Project History. The Look of 'The Jacket'
THE Jacket lays claim to being a genre-less movie; one which
combines elements of mind-bending drama with romance, murder,
mystery and time travel to deliver a truly unique experience.
In truth, John Maybury's stylish film contains plenty of traces
of other films, including Memento
and Jacob's Ladder, yet capably manages to shrug off such comparisons
to maintain an identity of its own.
Adrien Brody stars as Gulf War veteran Jack Starks who finds
himself accused of murdering a police officer while still recuperating
from a gunshot wound to the head sustained during his time with
Committed to a mental institution, Starks immediately falls foul
of its head physician, Dr Becker (Kris Kristofferson), who wastes
no time in putting him on a controversial treatment regime that
involves Starks being injected with experimental drugs, confined
in a straight jacket and locked for extended periods in the drawer
of a basement morgue.
Yet far from prompting the confession Dr Becker thinks it will,
Starks' disorientated mind propels him into the future, where
he meets Jackie (Keira Knightley) and discovers that he is destined
to die in four days.
Determined to understand his fate, Starks teams up with Jackie
in the future to solve the mystery surrounding his death, while
liaising with a more sympathetic doctor (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
in the present to further enhance his chances of uncovering the
Given the time-travelling nature of the plot, audiences will
have to work hard to keep up with some of the film's developments.
Yet Maybury provides a suitably satisfying
conclusion, even if it lacks the punch of films such as Memento
and Jacob's Ladder.
As a result, his film is more hopeful than harrowing, forcing
viewers to confront the possibility of what they would do if faced
with their own impending death.
In the pivotal role of Starks, Brody delivers a near-perfect
mix of anger and compassion, avoiding the temptation to become
overly dis-connected (especially during the asylum scenes).
His extreme, often violent treatment at the hands of Dr Becker
is sometimes difficult to watch but is neatly counter-balanced
by some of the tender moments he shares with Knightley, whose
own story arc provides Starks with his shot at redemption.
And Knightley, too, responds well to the challenge of playing
it gritty, turning in her best performance for some time (even
though her use of nudity feels a little unnecessary).
Of the support cast, Kristofferson also stands out as the shady
Dr Becker, whose extreme measures still stem from an element of
hope that he can help Starks. He is a conflicted character and
not merely the villain.
Maybury therefore deserves credit for giving his ensemble cast
the space to shine, even though the film remains packed with directorial
flourishes (some of which threaten to disorientate the viewer
as much as Starks himself).
As such, the tension is maintained well and the film never outstays
The only real stumbling point is the resolution, which many may
find a little too convenient and melodramatic, especially since
at least one of the plot strands is left unexplained.
For those willing to forgive any flaws, however, The Jacket remains
a consistently intriguing thriller that manages to find hope in
the darkest of places.