|The Jacket (2005)
Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Director: John Maybury
While the basic plot of “The Jacket” may have seemed like a good idea upon the initial screening of the film to movie heads, it brings back far too many memories of bad films just like it; films that all stirred up their share of media buzz just before crashing and burning in theaters. And so, despite director John Maybury’s keen eye for experimental filmmaking and screenwriter Massy Tadjedin’s somewhat-clever plot, “The Jacket” falls into the growing list of promising films (like “The Butterfly Effect”) that share the common tragedy of ruining a great idea through careless direction and unnecessary plot holes.
Adrien Brody continues to work at capitalizing on his Academy Award-winning performance as Jack Stark, a Gulf War soldier who was sent home to recover from a near-fatal bullet wound to the head. Jack’s out wandering the back roads one day when he stops to help an alcoholic mother and her 8-year-old daughter stalled on the side of the road. Jack fixes the car and befriends the little girl, Jackie, before continuing his hike through the country. Eventually, he is picked up by a passing driver and thrust into the middle of an argument that results in the death of a policeman.
Jack is charged for the murder and sentenced to an institution for the criminally insane where an experimental doctor, Thomas Becker (Kris Kristofferson), pumps him full of drugs, straps him into a jacket and throws him into a small footlocker for hours at a time. Once inside, Jack discovers that he has the power to time-travel; though it is never disclosed as to how he actually does this. Speeding through fifteen years of time, Jack arrives in 2007 to confront the now grown-up Jackie (Keira Knightley) only to learn that Jack Starks died in 1993, only weeks within arriving at the institution. After initially questioning his existence, Jackie inevitably decides to help the drugged-up Jack solve the mystery behind his death before time runs out.
By the time “The Jacket” reaches the midway marker though, the entire audience is already confused by what is happening within the narrative. Important plot points are performed through a series of muddled events that share no connections to one another, and just when the audience is meant to believe that Jack’s jump to the future has the ability to turn around the past, it seems as if his time-traveling is indeed already part of the events in motion. “The Jacket” would be a bigger mess than it already is without the impressive collaboration of the film’s cast. Brody replicates every torturing second spent in the jacket and Knightley (masked underneath a mess of black hair and a strangely obvious American accent) is a joy to watch in her first real adult film role. The strength in both performances undoubtedly helps keep this heap of questions afloat longer than it should have been, but without a script convinced of its own riddle, “The Jacket” sinks to the bottom of an all-too-familiar ocean littered with clever ideas.
You’d think these movie studios would finally learn that a DVD with no special features is like a film with no story, which is sort of fitting considering we’re talking about the half-assed psychological thriller, “The Jacket.” The only thing extra you’ll find on this barebones release of the film is a short interview with director John Maybury, the special effects featurette “The Look of the Jacket,” and the theatrical trailer.