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The Jackal

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Jackal

Starring: Bruce Willis, Richard Gere
Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Rated: R
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: November 1997
Genres: Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Sidney Poitier, Diane Venora, Mathilda May, Jack Black, Larry King

Review by Walter Frith
4 stars out of 4

A lot of people will criticize 'The Jackal' for the fact that Bruce Willis is a high paid movie star and the cynics will take pot shots at him by putting down this movie. In reality, Willis is a very talented actor who happens to be a movie star. He should have been Oscar nominated for 'Pulp Fiction', 'Nobody's Fool' and '12 Monkeys' but as his career becomes more and more seasoned, Willis will get recognized like Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery were and they were not thought of as serious actors when they were in their thirties or even when they were into their forties. Although Willis may never win an Academy Award just as the same might happen to Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise, Willis will probably get noticed from the Academy eventually in some form of a nomination. For others, they will examine 'The Jackal' closely and find that they have a terrific thriller on their hands because although Willis is the bad guy this time around, the movie belongs to Richard Gere just as much as it does Willis. Willis is a chilling and icy assassin with no conscience and this profile puts Willis in a whole new light.

'The Jackal' is a remake of the 1973 film 'The Day of the Jackal' which was based on the best selling novel by Frederick Forsyth and was directed by legendary movie maker Fred Zinnemann who made such classics as 'High Noon', 'From Here to Eternity' and 'A Man for All Seasons'. That film was about the attempted assassination of French leader Charles de Gaulle and this time the targeted quarry is in America. This remake by director Michael Canton-Jones isn't quite as good but it is a standout on its own merit and has an extremely convincing profile of an assassination set up. I've read some reviews that accuse this one of being overbearing and heavy handed by saying that too much time, effort, planning and machinery is put into pulling off the final result. But let's be honest. Movies have to take some license from time to time with the obvious to make it worthy of the admission price and when your target is a high profile figure, it just may take a lot more planning than the average mind thinks it will.

Willis is an American assassin for hire who takes an assignment for the Russian Mafia to kill a major U.S. figure when the Russian crime boss' brother is killed in an arrest attempt in which an FBI official (Sidney Poitier) is involved. What better way to get revenge on the Americans by striking back and making a powerful statement by assassinating someone important. Sidney Poitier enlists the help of an IRA terrorist (Richard Gere) who knows of Willis' past and with the aid of Gere's former lover, a Basque terrorist (Mathilda May), they help hunt down Willis. Another Russian agent (Diane Venora) plays a key role in helping the good guys.

'The Jackal' was filmed in several locations around the world and has a pace which is mysteriously low key which will be mistaken as being flat and the cool and lethal profile of Bruce Willis' character makes it work. Sidney Poitier hasn't appeared much in motion pictures in recent years since 'Sneakers' in 1992 and he really is a classic actor who should be seen more. Richard Gere is on a roll. His recent turn in 'Red Corner' and now his convincing role as a former IRA terrorist has provided him with his best work in years. I never looked at my wrist watch once during the film and 'The Jackal' doesn't drag for a second and is a perfect thriller for contemporary audiences who will embrace it while some won't recognize its merit and will knock it not because it's a bad film but because they will draw comparisons from the original and that's a shame.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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