“ Genre: War & Western - War / Theatrical Release: 2005 / Director: John Maybury / Actors: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley ... / DVD released 21 June, 2005 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC „
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===FILM ONLY REVIEW===
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Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes
Directed by: John Maybury
Starring: Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Adrien Brody
Certificate rating: 15
Tagline: "I was 27 years old the first time I died."
Description: Thriller centering on a military veteran who returns to his native Vermont suffering from bouts of amnesia. When he is accused of murder and lands in an asylum, a well-meaning doctor puts him on a heavy course of experimental drugs, restrains him in a jacket-like device, and locks him away in a body drawer of the basement morgue. The process sends him on a journey into the future, where he can foresee his death in four day's time. Now the only question that matters is: can the woman he meets in the future save him?
This film is centred around Jack (Adrien Brody), an amnesiac war veteran who avoids a prison sentence for murder and ends up in a mental asylum instead. The lead doctor subjects Jack to some experimental (and highly questionable) treatment which results in the unexpected side-effect of sending Jack time travelling into the future. During his time in the future Jack learns of his imminent death in the past (present!) and must set to work in both timelines to discover how he dies and hopefully stop the event to save his life. I am reluctant to go into more detail than this as I believe this would spoil the effect of watching the film.
I have watched this film twice now because I found it a little confusing to begin with, and was initially only focusing on the concept of time travel and the related themes. On my second watch I began to see more of the actual story and the characters involved, which allowed me to see the emotional side as well as the theory. There are many themes that are interwoven and the different aspects of the story form layers that overlap and break away without a defined form. It can be hard to follow as the timeline jumps around and we see characters in various stages of their lives. One of the more frustrating things for me is that there were countless little references that seemed to have some deeper meaning but then were never really explored further, and the trail leads cold without filling you in on the rest of the details. This does add to the feeling of disorientation that Jack must be feeling as he struggles with his lost memories and psychiatric treatments, as well as travelling back and forth in time.
Although I found the concept of the film really interesting I thought that the character development was lacking. I felt like there was nothing new here in terms of characterisation and it just seemed to stick to stereotypes such as "power crazy lead doctor at the asylum" and "alcoholic mother with daughter who grows up following in her footsteps". This is definitely to do with the script and direction rather than the acting, as the performances were absolutely incredible. Each actor fit their role perfectly and brought them to life in a way that was utterly convincing. I don't really like a lot of the big Hollywood stars, mainly because I'm not the biggest fan of blockbuster type films and their associated roles. However, this film has gained some big time names to its credits and I have to say that the celebs seem to be at their very best in this. Daniel Craig is unrecognisable in this when compared to his appearance as James Bond, but here he looks way more handsome in my opinion and gives a fantastic display of his acting talents playing an acutely nervous and delusional psychiatric patient. Keira Knightley usually bugs me a bit as I find her to be bland, but here she is able to display a full range of conflicting emotions, with a hard edge that tries to hide her true vulnerability. Adrien Brody has an irritating, unlovable face, but his skill in handling this character is exceptional. There are some hard scenes which are full of raw emotion and every line is delivered with complete precision from facial expression to the tone and tempo of his voice.
The Jacket is a complex film with an unusual timeframe sequence, and I think it definitely requires a second viewing to enable you to get the most out of it. The story was a little difficult to get to grips with in the beginning as there are so many layers and my brain was trying to connect everything and figure out the ending, when it would have been better to just simply watch and take it in. The first time I watched I enjoyed the more obvious science fiction and thriller elements, but on the second time I thought more about the deeper elements of love, fate and destiny. This might sound a bit odd, but my opinion is that I don't think fans of science fiction films will really enjoy this. Personally, I believe that the presentation of this film is actually more on a par with the style present in science fiction writing, and if you like to read SF novels then you might find this film is refreshingly different to most of the other science fiction movies that make it to the big screen.
The Jacket is another little-known-about film I came across but was interested in as I'm a fan of the psychological thriller type films. This was directed by John Maybury, who seems to have worked on a number of director roles but for films I haven't heard of before. Overall, it's a bit of a weird one and although it falls short on some levels, it was entertaining enough to give a go.
The basic premise is that there's Gulf War veteran by the name of Jack Starks (played by Adrian Brody) whose head wound has left him with some sort of amnesia and time disruption. He's been told he's being charged with the killing of a policeman, for which he's sent to a mental institution as a dangerous criminal. But we know that didn't happen, that it was actually a stranger who was with Jack at the time that committed the crime, yet it's Jack that's in the firing line for it. Whisked off in a straight-jacket, he's put under the care of doctor Thomas Becker (Kris Kristofferson). Things aren't quite what they seem as Jack is put into isolation, sensory isolation to be precise, and is experimented upon as an unwilling participant.
Whilst locked up in a straight jacket, and at times in a morgue drawer (obviously this institution doesn't care much for policies and I'm sure that would be against health and safety regulations!), Jack starts to suffer from more delusions about his past and future. As part of his disrupted timeline thinking is his belief that the future involves a waitress, Jackie Price (Keira Knightley), along with his more recent discovery that he himself is going to die in 4 days. He's gleaned all that from his delusion / foresight when locked up in isolation. So his ticket is up in only a few days, that is, unless he can figure out what's really going on; what happened before the head wound, did he really kill the officer, and what's going on at the institution?
Okay, so the premise isn't that clear, and it doesn't make sense. But overall, what can I say about this film other than it's quite a strange one..! At first glance, it's an interesting concept. I like films that involve some sort of time dislocation, mental institutions and mind-boggling. However, at times the confusion gets a little messy rather than intelligent and intriguing.
Whilst it had the potential, some aspects just weren't as strong as they could have been. For instance, I found some parts quite slow which dragged the tempo down and dampened any sense of atmosphere and tension. It didn't fall too deeply into the trap of cliché and the expected from such a genre, however, so it did keep a level of interest and originality.
The cast was relatively strong, including names such as Keira Knightley, Daniel Craig playing a smaller role and Adrien Brody as the protagonist. The acting brought some characters to life relatively well, but whilst Brody did a fantastic job, I did think more character development could have occurred to strengthen the films ability to make the viewer empathise and imagine the scenes and motivations behind behaviours. Linked in to this sense of underdevelopment, I felt the film as a whole felt slightly lacking in something that's hard to put your finger on; I finished watching it and felt like something was missing, that I wasn't quite satisfied with what had happened. Overall, I just felt it could have been stronger had there have been more pace, more action and a tighter plot and script.
None the less, this was a little different to the norm and attempted to do something along the lines of Mulholland Drive by creating a bit of a mind-boggle, but in my opinion it felt short of being intelligent, developed and focused enough. I'd still recommend this for fans of psychological thrillers, as you could definitely do far worse than The Jacket. Just be prepared for something a bit weird and something that won't necessarily make a great deal of sense.
DVD released 2005, rated Certificate 15
Selling on Amazon for £5.00
- Story -
'The Jacket' tells the story of a gulf war veteran called Jack Starks who returns home unsure of his background after suffering head trauma while in action. He hitches a lift from a stranger but things turn sour when their pulled over by a cop who ends up dead and he's charged with the cops murder. The jury find him not guilty by way of insanity and he's sent to a mental health facility when he's subjected to bouts of being restrained in a straight jacket and locked in what appears to be a morgue drawer for a few hours at a time.
While he's locked away in the drawer, he starts to see the future, being transported into the future where he's told that he can't be who he claims he is as he apparently died years ago, just days after his present. Thus he has to try and figure out how he dies and change things for the better but can he do it in time? will people in the future believe who he is and try and help him and shine a light on what really went on at the facility he was held in? you'll have to watch the movie to find out.
- Thoughts/Opinions -
I like Brody as an actor and he gives a pretty heartfelt performance in this role - his eyes are quite expressive but he is also very good at seeming devoid of emotion as well, if this makes any sense.
The story is really quite confusing, it unwinds pretty slowly and as we start to learn whats going on, it seems to make less and less sense, yet we become more wrapped in Jacks world, what happened in the past and what he appears to be learning about his future. Its quite upsetting when you find out what happens, given that mistakes were clearly made and to think that such horrendous supposed 'treatments' may ever happen or have happened to people - to think of people, even or perhaps especially those who have mental health issues - if you didn't beforehand you'd be more likely to afterwards but then perhaps that was the point(?) its certainly disconcerting. I noticed that in the scenes where you see Jack shouting out from within the closed or locked drawer, it seems as if he's the only one 'locked away' at the time, yet there are many, many drawers - again adding to the claustrophobia I suppose!.
While it is a dark movie, at the end there is an element of hope present - in a way its kind of like movies such as the Butterfly Effect in that Jack just manages to tip people off so that good can come and tragedies may be avoided.
Its a rather confusing and definitely dark movie but it was nicely made and there is something about it that draws you in as a viewer. It was particularly interesting to see how the characters of Jack and Jackie (ironic? sounds like a good comedy double act but anywhooo) interacted, although I found it a bit unbelievable that it seemed at a certain point in the movie, Jackie had come to terms with who exactly Jack was and the two of them set out to find out more about Jacks death - the whole concept in this instance was a bit difficult to fully comprehend but then of course its mainly science fiction based, so feasibility shouldn't really come into it. I thought that Keira Knightly did a good job portraying Jackie, who starts off and is seen in some scenes as a rather naive and friendly young girl and becomes a rather kind yet quite headstrong and somewhat untrusting young woman. The cast certainly make quite a big difference, with the wrong actors present this movie would be alot worse.
In this movie, I think it questions how people 'see' war veterans, with Jack having served in the gulf war, being near fatally attacked (in a rather shocking scene at the start of the movie), with him being sentenced to the mental health facility later on in the court scenes presumably the jurors presumed him to be suffering from some form of PTSD or more applicable I suppose would be Gulf War sydnrome (I think thats what its called?). When I think of it, its a bit unclear what the real truth is, as the movie unfolds I feel we're shown that Jack is as sane as the rest of us yet the start of the movie stills confuses me that he claims via narration that his injuries in action marked the time he died for the first time(?) I suppose with it being a head injury he very well could have been dead for a few moments on the operating table as happens but, eh, I just found it a bit confusing, or is it really science fiction and somehow he was brought back to life(?). I suppose I was a bit distracted with other things on my mind last night but I can honestly say that this is a movie you have to concentrate on to follow, it is clearly quite layered, I think thats the best term to use.
- Would I Recommend It? -
As much as this is a confusing and dark movie which im sure won't appeal to many people, indeed quite a few people will read this review and think that their glad they hadn't seen it, there are one or two scenes that could be quite disturbing to some people and the subject matter may be uncomfortable as far as treatment of war veterans are concerned, I still feel that overall its a well made movie that is rather thought provoking, in terms of the treatment of people sent to such mental health facilities. Its quite engrossing somehow and the cast portray their characters well, so I would recommend it to those who would be curious to see it but I don't feel that its for everyone, so I suppose I'd have to go with undecided as far as recommendation goes.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks, as ever, for all rates and comments. This review was originally posted on Ciao UK.
Can we change the future?
Ex-soldier Jack Starks (Adrein Brody) is sent to an asylum for the criminally insane in 1992, for the murder of a policeman. There, he is subjected to some horrific and unethical treatment, which allows him to see into the future - to 2007, well after his death. When he sees the future, he learns that in real life he is due to die in a few days, so as he travels between the present and the future he tries to piece together what will happen, and thus tries to prevent his death. For the rest of what happens, you'll just have to watch...!
This film was described as a 'science fiction thriller' to me, although I'm not sure I'd agree with this. I get the 'science fiction' bit, as Jack is able to see into the future, yet it feels so real. However, I wouldn't call it a thriller. For me, thrillers are instantly gripping, have you on the edge of your seat the whole way through, keep offering surprises and really get your adrenaline going. In reality, 'The Jacket' does draw you in and create intrigue, but most of the rest of the features of a thriller are missing. There was one moment about halfway through when I did feel my excitement and adrenaline going, so I thought things would really start to pick up, but they didn't and my adrenaline quickly dissipated.
Having said that, I still think it's a good film. My last paragraph wasn't meant to say I didn't enjoy it - I was simply trying to explain how the label of 'thriller' is ill-fitting. There are many good elements to this film - the most noticeable is that it's very easy to follow. So often with films which jump between the present and the future it can be all too easy to lose track of what's going on, but this is certainly not the case in 'The Jacket'. Totally different settings, plus the stark contrast between the ill Jack and the healthy Jack make keeping track of what's going on effortless.
What's more, the acting is brilliant. The characters are cast very well, and they're all very talented actors and actresses. However, one quibble I do have is that several of the actors and actresses are English, but have been cast into American roles, so you do get a few phoney accents. Although on the whole they manage to keep up their fake accents well, they do occasionally let them slip and you get a hint of the British coming through.
One such actress is Keira Knightley, who plays Jackie Price, an American girl who befriends Jack and helps him to piece together events. Normally, I don't enjoy watching Keira Knightley as I find her characters a bit flat, wooden, and frankly they all seem the same to me. However, I was pleasantly surprised by her performance in 'The Jacket'. She expresses a wide range of emotions effectively, and an air of mystery surrounds her. It seems that playing a 'bad girl' role for once actually suits her!
Plus, bonus points to you if you spot the appearances from the well-disguised Daniel Craig!
There is one love scene in 'The Jacket', although it's dealt with very sensitively. It only lasts for a few seconds, and you don't see any unnecessary bits you don't want to see! Nevertheless, clever directorship and camerawork nicely convey the feelings of love and passion, without making it all feel seedy and crude.
Overall, this film is worth seeing. It's nothing spectacular and probably won't jump to the top of anyone's list of favourite films, but it is enjoyable and deserves a watch. It ends up being a heart-warming tale which examines how our actions now can affect ourselves, our family and friends, or even others, well into the future. It's left me pondering some moral questions, and I think it is worth watching a second time to develop these thoughts and dilemmas further.
"How much time do we have?..."
Running time: 103minutes
Certification: 15 (UK), 15A (Ireland)
Main Cast: Adrien Brody (Jack Starks)
Keira Knightley (Jackie Price)
Kris Kristofferson (Dr. Thomas Becker)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dr. Beth Lorensen)
The film called The Jacket is a science fiction film. The story is quite hard to explain but I will try to give you a hint of what it is about.
The story starts in 1991 in Iraq where a soldier called Jack Starks is shot and thought to be dead but survives. Three years later back in Vermont he is walking along a road when he meets a young girl and he gives her his dog tags. Soon after he hitches a lift in a car that is stopped by police and the police man is shot dead. Jack is wrongly accused of the murder and he is taken to court where he is found to be insane and sent to a psychiatric hospital.
One of the doctors at the hospital tries to experiment on him and he finds he is transported into the future to 2007 where he finds out the date he died back in his other life. He meets up with a woman called Jackie Price who tries to help him find out what happened.
The film has a host of stars in it including Adrien Brody as Jack Starks, Kris Kristofferson as Dr Thomas Becker, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr Beth Lorenson, Steven Mackintosh (who has just appeared as the bent copper in the tv series Luther) as Dr Hopkins, Daniel Craig as fellow inmate of the hospital Rudy Mackenzie and Keira Knightly as Jackie Price.
Adrien Brody was brilliant as Jack Starks, you can really feel for his character when he is having the experiments done to him. Also Keira Knightly is really good as Jackie Price. I think they casted all the characters well though as they all suit the parts given to them and play them really well.
I really enjoyed the film once I could get into it, it is well worth sticking to it and trying to understand the story as it does explain itself as it goes along.
The Jacket is a haunting and enchanting tale of life's final journey, separating right from wrong, and potential lost love. Its dark and edgy and divides its viewing audience one of two ways, some love it, some hate, and of those that hate it a proportion do not really get it.
Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) was 27 years old the first time he died, a soldier in the first gulf war taken down by a young boy who he was trying to befriend. After being pronounced dead, Jack returned to life; left a wandering casualty of war with a shady memory and unusual manner. While walking in Vermont he befriends a young girl, and then later accepts a lift from a young man. This acceptance of a lift leads to the death of a police officer, and a lack of memory means that Jack ends up being committed to an asylum for a crime he may not have committed. In hospital Jack ends up under the care of Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson) whose "exceptional" methods of treatment involve putting patients in a straight jacket before placing them in a mortuary locker.
Its in the locker that things for Jack get really interesting, his realistic visions take him ten years into the future, to a place where Jack Starks does not exist, not for the past ten years anyway. Through the help of a waitress called Jackie (Keira Knightly), Jack discovers that three days from his encounter with the locker for the second time he will die. For Jack it's a race against time to discover how he died, or if he can change future history.
The Jacket is a magnificent movie that first haunts you then woos you as it moves from what is essentially horror to romance. It's an incredibly big story that manages to fit its immense tale into just over 90 minutes. Despite the terrible feeling of darkness and evil that encompasses more or less the entire movie, The Jacket really is a lovely movie. The sadness in that statement however is that it's a movie that is so far ahead of its time its still not appreciated.
While Jack battles to save himself he is not alone, and in what almost feels like a separate story Dr. Beth Lorenson (Jennifer Jason Leigh) struggles to find a way to save Jack, without understanding his impending fate, she just has a feeling that something bad is happening. But what is incredibly unique in this relationship that seems initially as a good doctor battling against a bad one (Becker), as the story plays out these lines are blurred as you reassess situation. And this is the beauty of The Jacket, who are the bad people? Who are the good people? You know from the offset that Jack is good but what about all the other characters? As you watch your views shift, and if there is any uncertainty about the movie then its in this area.
The performances are electrifying , from Adrien Brody's tragic portrayal of Jack, to the breathtaking performances by Keira Knightly playing an American, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as a doctor on the edge, but what of? But the real prizewinner is that of James Bond actor Daniel Craig almost unrecognisable as a jealous husband committed to the asylum because he was too possessive and obsessed with his wife, Craig's character is convincingly insane.
The Jackets story is vast and it feels like your watching a serialisation as so many story strands are addressed, you don't really notice this till you watch the movie for a second time and take in the full aspect of the story. You feel like you have watched the essence of the movie, when realistically it has only just begun. And its in this that The Jacket really impresses on you, and etches its way into your mind. It's a tale you'll never forgot, and one you'll enjoy watching again.
Despite its big names in both cast and production crew which include George Clooney and Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Jacket is very much a British movie, filmed almost entirely in a old Scottish Village hospital called Bangour. It's a magnificent achievement to watch this movie that looks in every way American to have it deceive you to such an extent.
On the DVD there is a few deleted scenes, nothing overly memorable. Additionally there is a documentary that takes key characters from both sides of the camera and gives them the opportunity to tell the story there way, from the directors disapproval of Keira Knightly, to filming in Scotland.
The DVD is available from between £3-£6 both on and offline.
On a separate note, if you get chance to visit Bangour between now and August 2010 (when redevelopment begins) its an experience to remember, this deserted hospital has 100 years of history just trying to reach out to you, my visit was one of the most memorable days of my life, but to be honest I'm not really sure why!
I saw this movie for the first time after seeing it cheap at Tesco, "I was 27 years old the first time i died" drawing me in to take a closer look. I was impressed.
This film stars Adrien Brody in a role as Jack Stark, a Gulf war veteran who was discharged from the army after recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, suffering from bouts of amnesia Stark was unable to function. Whilst hitchhiking he meed Jackie a young girl whom she helps as her mum is drunk, being sick and their car is in need of repairs. He gives the girl his army dog tags as a reminder.
A little further along the road Starks is picked up by a guy in a pickup, a killer! A policeman who pulls them over from a routine checkup becomes his next victim. Framing Starks for the murder with out his memory and without a sense of self Starks is taken to a mental hospital for recovery and 'treatment' which is where the fun begins.
Starks is subjected to an experimental treatment where he is injected with drugs and shoved in a morgue body drawer held down by a straight jacket. The combination of this sends his mind into the future where he meets an older Jackie. They find out Starks is due to die in 4 days. The race is on to save him.
This is a well acted piece with both Brody and Keira Knightley giving outstanding performances. The emotion and pain between the two of them is evident and provides an excellent back drop for the storyline.
The journey through time is done particularly well within this film, normally films involving some form of time travel can become laboured and cumbersome trying to explain the phenomenon, this is smoothed other and becomes clear for the watcher over the course of the film.
About the dvd itself, the running time of the film is 98 minutes and the disc includes special features. (Project history and deleted scenes, a special effects featurette and the theatrical trailer for the piece.) Overall a pleasing dvd with some extra features although you feel more could have been included.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
The Jacket is a very strange psycho thriller that is very loosely based on the Jack London novel, The Star Rover, but largely goes its own direction as a downright weird film that nevertheless has some mystical delights. It revolves around Gulf War veteran Jack Starks (Adrien Brody), who returns home in 1992 after his tour of duty is completed, but suffers from amnesia after miraculously managing to survive a gunshot to the head. However, soon enough he is accused of murdering a police officer, though is sent to a mental institution on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Starks is then at the whim of the institution's lead psychiatrist, who experiments upon him with a strange new form of medicine, and then locking him inside a morgue drawer, where his mind manages to look into the future 15 years and realise that he dies four days after being placed in the drawer. In 2007, he meets Jackie Price (Keira Knightley), and then learns that she is somehow instrumental in his death, and so tries to contact her in 1992.
Although tense and well acted, the film isn't without its flaws, and has a convoluted and absurdly labryinthine plot at times. While it does manage to coalesce into something meaningful, it is a long time coming and isn't as focused or as tight as it could be. That said, Brody and Knightley are solid in the lead roles, and there are some nice ideas.
An absolute mind-melt of a film, The Jacket requires you to pay close attention at all times, and if you do, you'll be rewarded for it, and even if the exposition isn't always clearly defined, it is intense and appropriately visceral.
The Jacket, this film has been out for a while now but for some reason I never decided to take alook at it, I didn't even know what the plot was until my girlfriend bought it round to our flat, we had a few mates around and decided to watch it, perhaps I should have paid attention to it. It's a thriller starring adrien brody and Keira Knightley, Jack (Brody) is on trial for the shooting of a police officer, himself having been shot in the gulf war and discharged, let off after being deemed insane and sent to a high security mential institute where a rather unorthidox method of being strapped into a straightjacket and placed in a mortuary draw takes place to 'cure' him. What does he see in the draw, well...the last time he died he was 27...
I thought the plot for this film was very good, a solider sent to a mental hospital who ends up in the future (in his mind) and finds out he has only days to live, his future self and future Jackie (Knightly), whom he had met briefly before as a young girl have to try and find out what happens...the story takes us through his last 4 days through the eyes of his current and future selves.
The acting was brilliant as you would expect, Knightley's accent however did grate on me a little, although I soon got over it, I had suspected Daniel Craig when Jacks 'friend' was on screen although didn't think it was actually him so was a little surprised with that, the female doctor was also very well acted, I also played a little game and won guessing which film we all remembered her from...that obviously being the Machinist.
There was no special features on the dvd we had, I'm not sure what the special features are on the other versions, the soundtrack I thought was quite good and fit in with the film very well, I can see this film is described as a war and westeren film, although I don't think it could be much further from that.
A very good thriller with a great plot and very good acting, what more do you need?
The use of abnormal narratives is a technique that has worked well for many films. '12 Monkeys' used time travel and repressed memory to create a story were the character was unsure if events had already occurred. 'Memento' used a reverse technique that aimed to parallel the short term memory loss that the main character suffers. Even Oscar nominated films like '21 Grams' parallel several intertwining stories to create impact. The issue with the abnormal narrative is that it can become too confusing and just not work. Films such as Guy Richie's 'Revolver' have been criticised for this. Could 2005 cult science fiction film 'The Jacket' avoid this confusion and tell a worthwhile story?
Jack Starks is a Veteran of the first Gulf War. Unfortunately, he did not return uninjured and a bullet to the brain means that he is left feeling separated from life and unable to distinguish time lapses. One such lapse occurs when he hitch hikes down a lonely road, he remembers helping a young woman and her child fix their car, but not killing a police officer. With no sign of this alleged family to support his alibi Jack is sent to a hospital for the criminally insane. It is here that he is treated by two very different doctors. Dr Lorenson is a caring doctor out to help, whilst Dr Becker aims to rid Jack of his madness by strapping him in a straight jacket, filling him full of drugs and locking him in a mortuary locker. Whilst locked away Jack believes himself able to see the future. Can he use the information he discovers in the future to help him in the present; especially as he soon discovers that he is to die in less than a week?
'The Jacket' is a strange piece of science fiction and its dark undertones means that it may not appeal to everyone. However, the concept of madness and treating the insane is not really an area that is traditionally filled with much light. It is the narrative structure that is the most interesting part of the film as it acts time travelling film that just happens to have dark themes. I enjoyed the aspects that saw Jack trying to discover clues to his death many years into the future. The ending section is perhaps a little too confusing, but in the time travel genre the use of open ended finales is acceptable as it makes you think for yourself what may happen/of happened.
The director, John Maybury, should take a lot of the credit for keeping the film on track throughout and not making it too confusing. The contrast of the stark reality and the impossible time travelling works well in a similar vein to '12 Monkeys' and 'Donnie Darko'. The sections that saw Jack go from the locker to the future are very well realised and use subtle special effects. These effects convey well the sensation that he is being forced into a psychological breakdown. If you have your TV turned up loud it may shock you a bit, but the impact is just right.
Another element that also works well is the acting. It is clear that this is more of an indie film, as the actors on offer are ones more used to that environment. Adrien Brody as Jack stands out as he leads the film. He is a peculiar looking man, but he is great at creating support for his character. Kris Kristofferson and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Doctors Becker and Lorenson are also very good, giving balance to characters that could too easily be seen as good and evil. The rest of the main characters do not come of quite as well as the rest, mostly as they are not given enough to do. Daniel Craig appears, but this was pre-Bond so his role is woefully underdeveloped. Keira Knightly as Jackie is probably just poorly cast for the film. She is ok, but after seeing her in epics I found it hard to believe that she could be as messed up as the character was supposed to be.
With its dark undertones and depressing subject matter, 'The Jacket' is the type of dystopian science fiction that is probably my favourite in the genre. If you are a fan of films such as 'Children of Men', 'The Machinist' or 'V for Vendetta' then this could be for you. However, if you do not like this type of film then 'The Jacket' is probably the grimmest of the lot. Despite this, for anyone looking for an intelligent film, that just happens to be science fiction, then 'The Jacket' is a powerful and good watch.
Director: John Maybury
Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightly
Price: Amazon uk £5.97
There is an interesting documentary about how they came about with the ideas and inspiration behind the film. The technique that is used to portray the time travel is also discussed.
The only reason I have seen this film is because it was £5, and so I thought it would be worth it as I thought it sounded quite interesting. The tagline is I was 27 years old the first time I died. So it does draw you in and makes the film sound like some sort of fantasy or science fiction movie. Now I will say to start off with I thought this movie was pretty bad. So if you do not want to read a review slagging this film off then dont read it.
The film starts out in a war zone where we see a kind soldier (Brody) talking to a small boy, trying to calm him down. Then he gets shot in the head, how delightful. After recuperating Jack Starks travels to Vermont, but he has a tricky little condition, Amnesia. He is then arrested for the murder of a police officer, and because of the amnesia he has no idea of what actually happened. Because of this he is sent to a mental institution where the local physician Dr Becker (Kristofferson) decides to put Starks on a controversial new treatment. This involves shooting him up full of experimental drugs, confining him in a straight jacket and then locking him in a morgue drawer for long periods of time.
It is here where the movies actually plot kicks in. During his time in confinement, Jack is confused and disorientated and his mind suddenly takes Jack into the future. It is here where he meets Jackie (Knightley). She enlightens him in the fact that he died in four days in the present time. Jack and Jackie (lol) have to search for a way to find out whats happening to him and how to save him from his fate.
Wow this sounds like a fun movie; yeah it really does only its not executed very well. The story is quite interesting but has the whole concept of time travel been worn out now? The whole concept of the film made me laugh really; I mean it had all the clichés, psychotic head of the hospital, the nice doctor and the crazy patient who he becomes friendly with. The fact that it was just his mind that put him in the future sort of bugged me as well. I mean if it was in his mind he created the future and therefore sort of self fulfilling his own prophecy of death. I know it sounds confusing but to me this story was really stupid. Keira Knightleys part seemed a little pointless as well. I know she is meant to be the love interest but to me I couldnt see past the point that it was Knightley trying to get out of her corset stereotype.
One good thing I do have to say about this film is that it has a gloomy feel about it. Everything in the film feels dirty, dull and mundane which does add a great atmosphere to this thriller. Ok back to the bad points, the script was pretty poor as well. Some lines just seemed a little unneeded and the whole Jackie and her mom story just seemed like a way to pass the time in the movie.
One major problem that I have with the film is that I didnt like the ending, it just seemed like nothing in the film had really happened and that another film would come on, but no just credits.
The direction was ok at best; yes John Maybury (dir) provided a moody atmosphere which could have been taken advantage of if the film had a certain edge to it, which it didnt. Not once in the film were clever shots, camera angles, music or tone taken. Instead it was a very simple way of directing, one which could have been done by a child who just pressed record. Having mentioned music I have to say that some music was used well. In a few scenes there was some gloomy music which did add to some of the scenes content. But throughout most of it there was just this dodgy sort of tune that only managed to get on my nerves.
Now for the acting I have to say that Adrien Brody was brilliant. I do love this actor and I think he manages to pull off this role very well. He is funny at times and then very melancholic at times. However the only part that bugged me was when he was thrown into the future. Anyone else would panic a little, but no he was as calm as anything. Ok maybe thats not Brody but some serious script problems. As for the young Keira Knightley, this is one of her attempts to get out of a corset. She does well as the brooding Jackie who hasnt got a life but the American accent she puts on is damn annoying. Kris Kristofferson plays the bad guy of the movie and I must say I do like his performance. I think he pulls the bad doctor role exceedingly well even if the role has been played to death in movies. Jennifer Jason Lee plays the kind doctor in the film. I usually like this actress but in this she seems very wooden and cant really apply any emotions to her facial expressions or voice, so overall most of the acting was good apart from a few complaints.
The picture quality on this DVD seemed a little dark and grainy to me, but it could just be the film. Sound quality is excellent, normal for Dolby digital but when I listened to this film in surrounds sound you can hear absolutely everything, even birds twittering in the trees, excellent entertainment, if only it was a better film.
As a girl that likes to sit down after a movie and watch all of the special features I was extremely disappointed when I realised this DVD only had a few, and they were pretty poor.
A theatrical trailer- wow yes because after watching the film I really needed to see a trailer for it.
Project history and deleted scenes- ok so the deleted scenes are alright and quite interesting to see what wasnt put into the film but the project history is a bit boring. All it goes on about is theories, time travel and experimental treatments and how the film first came about. Not very interesting at all, I wouldnt recommend watching it.
Special effects- this is pretty funky, just shows how they managed to create some of the tricky shots in the film. I always love these.
My Overall opinion
So if you havent guessed by now I am really not very impressed with this film. I thought the story was pathetic, time travel really has been done to death now. Nothing really original in the film, lots of clichés, I even think I heard thunder and lightening going on at the same time, worst cliché of all time! The acting was quite good and I think that is what will bring my rating of this film up a little. Direction was pretty poor, nothing clever or new, just very plain. I liked one special feature but this is not enough for me to bring up the score. Three special featuers where two arent even worth watching is pretty poor for a DVD. Overall I really do not recommend buying this DVD. The film is pretty poor but if you are going to ignore me anyway just rent it or buy it cheap on video.
Runtime: 98 minutes
Certificate: 15- strong violence and language
Price (if youre going to ignore me): £5.97 from amazon.co.uk
Jack Starks is shot in the head during the Gulf War, where he is serving in the military. Escaping death, he is discharged under medical reasons suffering bouts of amnesia. Hitchhiking through Vermont he comes across a broken down truck. The mother is wasted and throwing up all over the roadside while her young daughter stands there helplessly waiting for someone to come along. Jack fixes the car and gives his dog tags to the enchanting little girl, Jackie, just before her mother bundles her into the car and they drive off leaving Jack behind.
Later another driver picks him up and they head off. Not long after they are pulled over by the police, who is unfortunately shot by said driver and due to Jacks bouts of amnesia he is set up as the shooter. His trial concludes he is not guilty by reasons of insanity and he is sent to Alpen Pines institution for the criminally insane.
Dr Thomas Becker is assigned to look after him and unbeknownst to some of the other staff there he is conducting relentless, sadistic experiments on the patients. They are taken to the basement and strapped into a urine stained straightjacket, after being pumped full of drugs. Following this they are slapped on a table and pushed into a body box drawer in the morgue. Jacks first experience is not a pleasant one and he panics and gets very upset, eventually coming out in a sort of comatose state, staring at the ceiling.
Many other sessions follow of this nature and Jack begins to have flash forwards to his future. On the 26th December 1992 he is put in the drawer and in his dream/flash forward he meets up with an alcoholic young woman, who turns out to be Jackie, the little girl he met by the side of the road. This is how he realises he is in the future. However when Jackie informs him he actually died on 1st January 1993 and he is experiencing life in 2007, he realises he has some things to find out about his death in order to save himself and anyone else he can help along the way.
With four days in which to get answers, he enlists the help of Dr Lorenson in the asylum in 1992 and Jackie in the freedom of 2007. Will he still die and how or who makes it happen? Will he change Jackies lonely alcoholic future or will it all be in vain?
Adrien Brody plays Jack Starks and I had not seen him in any other film (yet to see King Kong!) although he has been in plenty. I was really impressed with his acting and the casting here as at one point Colin Farrell was originally considered for this role and it would have been so wrong. Brody is so right for the part with his looks and height. He is not conventionally good looking yet brings a real attraction to the character. Starks is drugged up a lot of the time and Brody pulls this off with ease. Eyes rolling back and so on seem to come easy to him.
The tension and claustrophobia of the morgue drawer scenes are amazing. He gives you enough fear and rejection of the drawer in the initial scenes to make you realise the terror he is feeling inside. Some of the scenes inside the drawer actually made me take in great lung fulls of air as it had made me feel so enclosed and claustrophobic that I felt the need to breath really deeply sitting on the settee! Brodys acting in these scenes is second to none, and in one scene when he breaks down and cries, this actually real as he had asked the director to lock him up in the drawer even in between filming to get it as realistic a feeling a possible. He did break down for real in the end and this was caught on camera and used.
Kiera Knightley is huge at the moment and she brings the almost gothic character of Jackie to us in this film. She is full of despondence about life and although she wants to help Jack when she first meets him in 2007, until she realises and accepts who he is she wants him to keep his distance. She is living a hellish life, following in her mothers alcoholic footsteps and her future is not looking that rosy. Kiera obviously didnt mind looking rough for the shots of her as an alcoholic, although with someone who has such a beautiful face it is hard to dampen her down too much. In terms of acting, she good a good job although I dont think she was as good as Brody. Then again her scenes were nowhere near as harrowing or complex as Brodys.
Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kris Kristofferson play the two doctors at the asylum. Leigh plays Beth Lorenson the concerned carer of Stark. Stark gets her on board by telling her how to deal with situations in her personal life, that he could not have known about unless he had seen the future. Im not keen on Leigh as an actress, although she is not rubbish but there is something missing for me. Maybe it is the roles she plays but she always seems to come across as a bit flat to me, however this does not detract from the brilliant acting from others in the film. Kristofferson plays the evil and sadistic Dr Becker, responsible for locking them in the drawers to begin with. I think he is brilliant. His deeply lined face makes you believe he has so much wisdom and experience but any that is lurking there is just used in awful experiments of rehabilitation on the patients he has been entrusted to look after. His eyes are very haunted and hooded and whether this is normally how he looks I am unsure but for this film especially during the end scenes it is a brilliant way for him to across.
This film was the kind that you keep expecting there to be an explosion of action but it never comes. It is a thinking film and I really loved it. Confusion is certain for the first time watcher to begin with, but this is easily overcome once things become clearer and everything youve seen that was confusing will be remembered and will fall into place quite easily. It is complex but easy to watch at the same time. Brody and Kristofferson were the best for me but there were no bad actors or acting in this film.
For me this was one I would like to watch again as I am sure there are things that I could pick up from it and see in a new light or that had not been noticed before when it is watched second time round.
We rented this from Screenselect so there were no special features or extras to tell you about but you can buy it from Amazon for £8.97, which I am sure you will agree, will not break the bank.
Thanks for reading.
1991, Iraq and Jack Starks an American soldier is shot in the head and as his voiceover tells you that 'this was the first time I died!' He is declared dead in a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit when he suddenly opens his eyes and starts breathing.
He is discharged from the army and given a Bronze star after the doctors declare his is suffering from amnesia and will likely never recover fully.
12 months later Starks is hitch hiking through the cold winter snows of the American countryside when he comes across a young girl, Jackie, and her mother Jean. They are stuck, their car broken down and the little girl asks Starks to help. He fixes the car and talks to Jackie, which her mother, in a drugged up state, takes the wrong way and storms off in the car, leaving Starks alone again. Later a lone driver pulls up alongside the freezing Starks and offers him a ride, a decision he will come to regret when they are stopped by a police officer.
The next thing we see is Starks in court, on trial for the murder of the police officer. The bullet wound to his head means his has only fragments of memory and all he recalls about that day is Jean and Jackie. Without their surnames or any other details though he stands no chance of finding them and proving anything he says. He is adamant he didn't kill the cop but there is no proof, it all points to him and Starks is found to be criminally insane.
Sentenced to Alpine Grove Insane asylum Starks life takes an even worse turn when he finds that he is going to be a subject of Dr. Becker's rather extreme form of treatment. The good Dr. Becker's idea for curing violent tendencies in the insane is to strap them up in a straightjacket, pump them full of drugs and...... well you'll have to see the film to find out the last part!
While locked in the jacket strange things start to occur, are they real or is Starks really starting to go insane?
The Jacket is a complex thriller that veers into supernatural and sci-fi territory and will have you exercising your brain more and more as the story unfolds.
Similar to The Machinist in its portrayal of a man confused and puzzled by what is going on around him and in its subjective reality view. The Machinist, and Donnie Darko for that matter, also deals with a one man point of view which is possibly all a false reality, are you seeing the truth or just what they see? The Jacket is the same and you are never quite sure if what you are seeing is the real reality!
The Jacket throws puzzle after puzzle at the viewer as it goes on, keeping you watching and listening as it begins to unravel the complexities of the storyline and things, some things anyway, start to become clearer.
Is this a supernatural thriller or sci-fi thriller? I'm not totally sure as it possesses elements of both genres and adds in more than a passing nod to Personal Drama. Everything revolves around Starks and how he sees, perceives things. There is very little he is not involved in scene wise, just one little sub plot that could be said to be there specifically to set up a later development.
Starks name is also a fascinating choice, a lot of the scenery, whether inside or outside, is very stark and dull. The whitewashed grey of the asylum, the clothing the cast wear and the snow covered ground all make for a an almost colourless palette to the film, again not unlike The Machinist. Little touches like these you feel are there on purpose, to add to the overall film, to bring you into Starks world and feel as he does maybe?
There is also a great sequence where Starks and Becker argue where the camera focuses on Beckers sad, tired eyes and Starks teeth. Symbolising the unhappiness of Becker and the anger of Starks, this works really well and is a great piece of direction.
Adrien Brody is a fine, fine actor, his performance and Oscar for The Pianist proving this, as did his other crazy man act in the generally under whelming The Village. Here his acting and particularly his eyes show Starks as a man veering between clarity and potential mania. This again just adds to the whole nature of the film, making everything all the more debatable, the flimsy reality of Starks and his journeys during incarceration reminding me of Kevin Spacey/Prot in K-Pax.
The two female leads, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Keira Knightley, are both good. They do the best they can but neither have big enough parts to really stand out. As I said Starks is the focus off the film and even the other main characters are really just peripheral to him and his story.
Jennifer manages to break out of her hooker with a heart stereotyping and become...... a Doctor with a heart. Okay only a slight change and not that great a diversion of talent but at least she gets to wear god clothes this time around!
Kiera plays a slightly darker, less wholesome character than I have seen her play before, but again without having any scenes that revolve around her part in The Jacket is there just as a stimulus for Starks.
The other two main supporting characters Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson) and Mackenzie, Starks friend in the Asylum, (Daniel Craig) both add to the list of incredible acting talent that has been pulled together for this film.
I am not certain whether this is a British film (it is listed as a German/US/UK production) as some of it is filmed in Scotland but how they managed to pull in all these top acting talents I don't know. The quality of the acting all round certainly adds a lot to the story.
When we came out of this film there were so many conversations points that we must have spent a good 40-45 minutes talking about it while in the restaurant afterwards. Talking over how we interpreted things and bringing up things that one or other of us hadn't spotted or thought about, this to me is the sign of a great movie, one that not only entertains while watching but gets you discussing about it afterwards. If you like something a bit different go see The Jacket, you will not be disappointed!
· Oh if anyone gets to see this soon could they keep an eye out for the names and dates on the gravestones, it went far too quick for me to get it all and I am curious about them
Director: John Maybury
Running Time: 102 minutes
Jack Starks - Adrien Brody (The Pianist, The Village)
Jackie Price - Keira Knightley (Bend It Like Beckham, Pirates of The Caribbean)
Dr. Becker - Kris Kristofferson (Blade)
Dr. Lorenson - Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Machinist)
Mackenzie - Daniel Craig (Layer Cake, Sylvia)
A military veteran goes on a journey into the future, where he can foresee his death and is left with questions that could save his life and those he loves.