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The Jacket
2005 - R - 102 Mins.
Director: John Maybury
Producer: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Massy Tadjedin
Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site:
Warner Independent Pictures time-travel romantic drama 'The Jacket' has been erroneously marketed as a thriller ala 'The Butterfly Effect' when, in actuality, the thriller elements are tepid at best. The film gets by as a decent time waster by virtue of its performances and a visual style that while not exactly unique (think 'Seven' or more recently, 'The Machinist') is still effective here.

Ever since 'Pirates of the Caribbean' became a huge box office success in the summer of 2003 Keira Knightley has been touted as an up and coming Hollywood starlet. This has yet to be the case as her follow-up with Jerry Bruckheimer 'King Arthur,' in which she was the centerpiece of the marketing, promptly bombed. At the very least, even when taking into consideration the foreign take, the film was a disappointment. Now she appears in yet another bomb ('The Jacket' grossed a paltry $2.7 million opening weekend). Nonetheless, the film isn't nearly as bad as the numbers would make imply. Instead, the film is more of a slight misfire than an outright disaster.

Ms. Knightley lends the film a decent turn in a multi-faceted role as the erstwhile girlfriend of Jack Starks (Adrien Brody, 'The Pianist'), a Gulf War veteran wrongly accused of murder. He is admitted to an institution for the criminally insane run by Dr. Thomas Becker (Kris Kristofferson, the 'Blade' trilogy). Becker utilizes Starks as a test subject by binding him in a strait-jacket and locking him inside a drawer for hours at a time. This obscure method is supposed to quell his violent tendencies (I don't know, if I was locked up for long periods of time it would make me want to be more violent when let out). During his time inside the drawer, Starks is able to travel ahead in time (how he does this is never explained) and he meets Knightley's character, now older. Eventually, they work in the future to try and prevent the events that occurred in the past from happening again and thus change the future.

First off, 'The Jacket' gets a few things right. The performances range from merely decent to quite good. In addition to Knightley's twisty but notably effective performance, Adrien Brody is able to bring enough depth and emotion to his persona without giving into the temptation to go over the top, easy to do given the fact that a good portion of his scenes take place in an insane asylum in which he is surrounded by others who are doing just that. As the sinister Becker Kristofferson also lends a nice performance, bringing the sort of gruff, no nonsense attitude that is just what the role calls for. Unfortunately, all is not well with 'The Jacket.'

The film suffers from a far too convoluted plotline. It starts off as intriguingly bizarre but soon grows wearisome. It does so because the viewer soon realizes that the film is content on dragging things out far past their freshness date, so to speak. When the film finally decides to push forward with a new idea it is uncharacteristically melodramatic and otherwise sappy in the way a typical romance would play out, leaving the viewer ultimately disappointed in its abrupt change from a unique perspective to a more conventional cliché of a development.

All said, 'The Jacket' is a mediocre combination of a unique premise coupled with decidingly uninspired execution.
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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