The Jackal (1997) – Review

2 Stars

The Jackal is a film that tries to create urgency and tension within its story but the movie is a remarkably dull experience. Remaking Day of the Jackal was probably never going to work out well, but the elements seem to have been in place to at least make a compelling thriller. Except for one surprise late in the picture the entire film feels preordained and unexciting.

A high ranking FBI agent (Sidney Poitier) teams with a female Russian officer (Diane Verone) to stop a determined assassin (Bruce Willis) from executing a senior official within the agency. A former IRA member (Richard Gere) is sprung from a high security prison to aid in hunting down ‘The Jackal’ before he kills his intended target.

Michael Caton-Jones has made some good films in his career. There is nothing technically wrong with this film, the acting is compelling, the casting is spot-on, and the explosions are large enough to satisfy the action crowd. So why does the movie just lumber on-screen going through it’s paces? Perhaps less would have been more in this case. I think the movie gets lost in a dumb second act that sees Willis in a dozen different disguises. 1997 saw the release of both The Saint and The Jackal, each featuring a leading man who specializes in various forms of appearances. Both movies are sub-par star vehicles, but I guess I prefer The Jackal due to the talent on-screen. How’s that for a recommendation?

Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Stars: Richard Gere, Bruce Willis, Sidney Poitier

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