When a performer wins an Academy Award, there’s always some fear that it may be a fluke – a sort of
once in a lifetime opportunity that is recognized. Finding follow-up roles can be troublesome, mostly for
actresses but even several actors have had difficulty finding roles that play to their strengths. When Adrien Brody
received the best actor prize for his sterling work in THE PIANIST, I was among those cheering. The young actor
was memorable in the role and, in my estimation, deserved to win. But for Brody, capitalizing on the Oscar
has been difficult. Granted he is more of a character player along the lines of a Dustin Hoffman, so the material
he is offered is generally offbeat. His first post-Oscar role was essentially a supporting role in M. Night
Shaymalan’s THE VILLAGE. For his first real leading role, the actor opted to star in THE JACKET, a sort of
twisty thriller that unfortunately fell quite short of its intentions.
THE JACKET, directed by John Maybury, centers on Gulf War Veteran Jack Starks (Brody) who
suffers a near-fatal head wound and is returned Stateside with a form of amnesia. Starks then hitchhikes his way
around New England, encountering a woman (Kelly Lynch) and her daughter (Laura Marano) whose car
has broken down. He gives his dog tags to the child and heads on his way. He’s later picked up by a mysterious
stranger (Brad Renfro) who becomes violent when stopped by a police officer. Accused of murdering the state
trooper, Starks in sent to a hospital for the criminally insane.
There he is forced to undergo an experimental form of treatment under the auspices of Dr. Thomas Becker
(Kris Kristofferson): patients are fed drugs, strapped into a straight jacket and then placed in morgue drawer.
Supposedly, this is supposed to create a womb-like environment causing the patient to regress. In Stark’s case, he
is able to travel to the year 2007 where he meets the grown-up version of the young girl (Keira Knightly), with
whom he embarks on a love affair.
The film’s screenplay is hokum, through and through and it’s a shame to see fine actors like Brody, Jennifer
Jason Leigh, Stephen Mackintosh, and Daniel Craig (looking like Jason Isaacs’ older brother) trapped in such
dreck. Maybury adds his signature touches of using odd camera angles, focusing tightly on the actors’ eyes or
mouths, and quick edits, but it’s all to little or no avail. The convoluted and predictable story renders THE
JACKET laughable at best.
The American DVD release contains a short featurette on the look of the film and a piece that combines
interviews with Maybury, screenwriter Massy Tadjedin, and Brody alongside deleted scenes and alternate
endings, none of which add much to the proceedings.
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and brief sexuality/nudity
Running time: 103 mins.
|© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.