The Jacket


Directed by: John Maybury
Written by:Massy Tadjedin
Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch, Brad Renfro
Released: August 11, 2005
Grade: B-

Jack Starks (Brody) stands by the side of the road.  He hitches a ride with a young guy (Renfro).  The car is pulled over by a police officer.  The driver pulls out a handgun and shoots the officer dead.  The driver then shoots Jack and leaves him for dead by the side of the road.  Jack survives but has no memory of the event.  On trial for the death of the police officer, Jack is found guilty by way of insanity.  He is now incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital and under the care of Dr Thomas Decker (Kristofferson).

Decker has been experimenting on his patients with a radical procedure.  He injects them with a formula and locks them in a very confined space for a short period of time.  The results have been unusual and the intrigued Decker continues with his research.  Jack is his latest lab-rat and trapped inside the dark cell in a straight-jacket, the hallucinations begin…

It’s Christmas Eve and Jack waits outside a diner.  A girl named Jackie Price (Knightley) offers him a lift somewhere but Jack has no idea where he wants to go.  He goes back to her house and they spend the night talking on the couch.  Looking around while Jackie is asleep, Jack finds a pair of dog tags hanging on the wall.  They are his.  He gave them to a young girl on the day he was shot.  How did Jackie get them?

Confronting her straight away, Jackie tells of how she was given them many years ago by a stranger.  Putting two and two together, Jack realises he is witnessing “a time that is not this time”.  He has been given a glimpse into the future.  When Jack finds out that he is to die in four days time, it becomes a quest for both himself and Jackie to find out how and try to prevent it...

The Jacket is a thriller which fails to thrill.  Time travel movies can be great like Donnie Darko or they can really stink like Timeline.  This falls into the later category and didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense.  It was never explained how Jack was seeing into the future.  If Dr Decker realised this was happening (and surely he did), why didn’t he take it further?  Why didn’t he even go in for his own look?  Furthermore, what’s with the big conspiracy as to how Jack died?  Without giving it away, I found it hard to believe that so many people were unwilling to give him the information.

Adrien Brody is an accomplished actor but flounders in this befuddling screenplay.  Keira Knightley isn’t much better either.  Kris Kristofferson and Jennifer Jason Leigh (as another doctor) are the pick of the bunch but this isn’t going to help ticket sales.  Unless you’re easy to please, The Jacket will provide more irritation that enjoyment.