The Jacket

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

“The Jacket” is a fairly good thriller, but one that’s a bit too smart for its own good. Movies that involve time travel have to be very careful of one thing: the timeline. That, I suppose, is the inherent danger in time travel as I recently point out in my review of “Primer”. The two characters in that movie were smart enough to know what the ramifications of time travel were. In “The Jacket”, we’re not sure if he is going backwards or forwards in time and ultimately, it doesn’t really seem to matter. Adrian Brody is a fine actor, no doubt – and Kara Keightly has talent as well, but I fear she may just be another good English actress that will fade into nothingness as time goes by. Brody has a way to communicate so much emotion just with his facial reactions and we’re meant to feel sympathy for his character throughout. But the audience, like him, is trying to figure out what the hell is going on and thus some of the confusion ensues.

Brody plays Jack Starks, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War (1991), who was shot in the head by a young boy. He tells us that “…it was the first time I died…” and so, sets up an eerie plot point. Jack returns to the states as somewhat of a drifter, and it picked up while hitch-hiking. As luck would have it, the driver of the car is a bit off his rocker, and when pulled over by the law – shoots the officer dead framing Jack for the murder. Jack is committed to an insane asylum where he undergoes some very questionable therapy by the menacing Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson). It’s this therapy, though, that is the center of the movie. Jack is put in a jacket, drugged and then shoved in a morgue coffin (or whatever they call those things) to literally relax with his thoughts. But as he finds out, he is “living” in the year 2007 – trying to differentiate fact from fiction. He meets up with a waitress (Knightley), whom he’d met in 1992 and tries to convince her that he didn’t murder the officer. Oh…one more thing: he’s set to die on Jan. 1, 1993 so he’s only a few days to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

There was no real problem with “The Jacket”, it relies on some sharp cuts, shocking music and some truly interesting characters. However it was a bit hard to follow at points. Don’t get me wrong, I like movies that make you think and when a movie is so utterly predictable it’s annoying, but there were just a few things about this film that seemed to be missing. It’s got a pretty solid cast with Jennifer Jason-Leigh (playing a doctor in both timelines), Brody, Knightley and even Kelly Lynch (remember her?). While not as mesmerizing as some psychological thrillers out there, I’d recommend “The Jacket” for a rental and the disc has some supplemental material that might merit a purchase if you’re a major fan of the movie.

Video: How does it look?

“The Jacket” uses a variety of visual styles that make its presentation unique. These range from jump cuts to a very saturated look when the scene is outdoors. I found the transfer to be very good, sharp in some scenes and a bit soft around the edges in others. Visually, this is a very “dark” movie though the picture seems to be very fluid throughout. I’d say that there were only a few spots in which I saw any hint of some softness. The 2.35: 1 image is nearly flawless and aside from those few things mentioned, this is a very solid transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is surprisingly good at points and still above average at others. Let’s face it, these days any major studio movie will have a pretty decent soundtrack with only the best of the best really making a lasting impression on our sophisticated ears. That said, “The Jacket” uses some pretty impressive uses of sound as to when it’s used (usually when he’s in the locker and experiencing his trip. One thing of note is that there are a lot of close-ups of Jack’s eyes and they make a little noise when he moves them. It’s odd and hard to describe, but those little discrete effects can make a difference in the movie.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There are very few extras on “The Jacket”, mainly a couple of featrettes and the original trailer. The origin featurette tells of how the movie came along and with a little help from Stephen Soderbergh and George Clooney, how it made it to the screen. Interviews with the director and screenwriter give us some insight into the film’s history and some deleted scenes are imbedded in this as well. There is also a featurette on how the look of the movie was done – it delivers what it says and I was intrigued as to how much work goes into every little scene. Lastly, the original theatrical trailer is included.

Disc Scores