The Jackal is the longest two hours I’ve spent in a theatre in recent memory. I’m not sure what to call this movie. It could be a thriller, but it doesn’t thrill. It could be an action film, but there’s not enough action.
The Jackal is an assassin that nobody can identify. As one FBI agent reports, they don’t even know if The Jackal really exists. The movie follows two stories in parallel; one follows a group of good guys who are trying to protect a government official against The Jackal. On this team is the Deputy Director of the FBI, Carter Preston (Sidney Poitier), Major Valentina Koslova (Diane Venora), and an IRA sharpshooter Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere). It is this story line is the one that is lacking and slows the movie to a grinding halt. The other story line follows The Jackal himself. This is the more interesting story line, and like in Heat, this story line made me cheer for the bad guy more than I did for the good guys. Bruce Willis seems to be having a great deal of fun portraying a bad guy. And though his character is the master of disguise, no matter what disguise Willis dons, he’s still Bruce Willis. That’s OK though, this part of the film was fun.
The Jackal, next to being a master of disguise, is a man of gadgets. He’s a high-tech guy who uses the Internet to conduct illegal business, he uses a cell phone, and his high-tech weapon is remote controlled from his notebook. With all of this under his belt though, The Jackal did some pretty stupid things during the film. I won’t spoil it, but the character of The Jackal conflicted with itself.
Chuck Pfarrer (Hard Target) who scripted this version of the 1973 The Day of The Jackal builds up the story slowly and the pay-off is just not there. The script is too predictable. I sat through the film mentally predicted what would happen next, and not to my surprise, I was always right. The script also takes huge skips in logic and the pace of the film gives the audience too much time to find these skips of logic.
The action in the film, whatever there was, was flat and bland. The part that I loved and made me chuckle, though wasn’t supposed to, was during an action sequence where Gere’s Mulqueen is forced to hug a light post, he sure does grimace well. At least with Pfarrer’s Hard Target script there was John Woo at the helm and the action was enough to pull that film out of the hole (it had two things going against it, one was the weak script and the second was Jean-Claude Van Damme). In The Jackal though Michael Canton-Jones is unable to find anyway of pulling this film out of the hole.
Not everything is bad; there are some good things about this film. First off, Willis is a joy to watch. Many people wonder why people – like myself – like this guy, I think it’s just because he is fun to watch, especially during this film. The second thing I liked was the opening credits with its SE7EN-like title sequence and music. Poitier does a great job with his part and is the only person on the good guys' team that is likeable.
The Jackal is a slow moving predictable film that doesn’t have the pay-off to have an audience wade through its two hours. Though Willis is very enjoyable, his story is only half of the film and the other half of the film you’ll just be saying to yourself, “Get back to The Jackal, these guys are boring.” Skip The Jackal, it’s not worth the two hours spent in the theatre.