out of 4
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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
Copyright © 1997 Walter Frith
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