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JacketThe Jacket on DVD

One of the most important aspects of making a film is that you have to find some way to make it end properly.

If you can’t tie up all the loose ends and subplots, you should go back a few pages to see if you can fit something in.

We bring this up because of The Jacket. It’s a quasi-smart, quasi-creepy psychological thriller that starts out well, continues just as well, and ends well enough until you realize the awful truth: there are a whole bunch of questions that still need to be answered.

Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) is a Gulf War veteran, who gets killed as he tries to help a young boy. But as it turns out, he’s not quite dead. Sometime after the war, he’s on his way home (at least we’ll assume that’s where he’s going). He stops to help a young girl and her mother with their car, then hitches a ride with a random Joe.

Next thing he knows he’s in a mental hospital, accused of murder and found innocent only due to insanity. The hospital folks have a tendency to drag Jack downstairs, strap him into a straightjacket, and stick him in a small box. While in the box, Jack finds himself thrust into the future, where he discovers he died several years ago…mere days after he woke up in the hospital. So he must somehow find a way to prevent his death, even though he doesn’t quite understand what the heck is going on.

The Jacket gets by on its intriguing premise and talent in front of and behind the camera. Adrien Brody proves himself a worthy A-list Academy Award winner by holding up much of the film on his own. Keira Knightley is almost unrecognizable all dirtied up and speaking with an American accent, but she does a marvelous job. Director John Maybury builds tension and keeps us wanting more for as long as he can…

And then when the movie is over we can’t help but feel shortchanged. It’s almost as if the writer had the idea for the movie, but couldn’t figure out how to end it. So rather than trying to end it by tying up all the loose ends satisfactorily, he’d just tie up one of the subplots and leave it at that.

We thought, maybe, it was just us who didn’t think the ending was sufficient (perhaps we dozed off or something). But after asking several others who saw the film, the consensus was that it did not, indeed, end properly at all. Perhaps there’s a director’s cut in the future? We can only hope so, for otherwise The Jacket will forever be the movie that ruined plenty of potential with what appears to be sheer laziness on the writer’s part.

The movie is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1, but both seem unspectacular for some reason. The picture features a good use of tones and color (or lack thereof), but some of the darks are much too dark and it seems too soft. Audio uses some good separation between the front channels and excellent output of sound effects, but the surround speakers and the subwoofer are hardly used at all.

Extras include two featurettes and the trailer. “The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes” is pretty self-explanatory. George Clooney and Stephen Soderbergh discuss how they helped get the movie made, while the director and writer talk about how they made the movie. The deleted scenes, unfortunately, don’t help to answer any of our questions, and so just come across as slightly annoying. “The Look of The Jacket” is a short special effects featurette that briefly touches on the look of the film. It’s somewhat interesting, but not long enough to be stimulating.

Finally, the film’s creepy theatrical trailer is included as well.

The Jacket, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
103 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Produced by Peter Guber, Stephen Soderbergh, George Clooney
Screenplay by Massy Tadjedin, directed by John Maybury


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Updated May 13, 2006