In 1991, Jack Starks, serving in Operation Desert Storm, is shot in
the head. Believed to be dead, he is about to be sent home in a bodybag. He
regains consciousness and is sent to a hospital. Suffering from amnesia and
having no friends or family, he is sent home and, after recovering, is soon
hitchhiking back in the States, with no real destination.
Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley,
and Jennifer Jason Leigh
He comes across a woman (Kelly Lynch) with a small girl by the side of the
road. Their truck won't start and the woman is in no condition to drive, apparently
suffering from a long bout of drinking. Jack attempts to help them by fixing
the truck. Before he can offer to drive them home, the woman threatens Jack,
whisks her daughter away from him and the two drive off, leaving Jack to continue
walking alone. Soon after, Jack is picked up by a young man (Brad Renfro) driving
a station wagon. They're soon pulled over by a state trooper, but the reason
why is unclear.
Jack then finds himself sitting
on the witness stand, accused of the murder of the state trooper. He has
no recollection of anything other than the encounter
with the woman and the girl. He is found not guilty of the trooper's murder,
but only by reason of insanity and is transported to Alpine Grove, a mental
health facility. While there, he is subjected to a "treatment" that
is intended to help him with his "violent tendencies." The treatment
involves a restraining jacket, some mind-altering drugs and spending time locked
in a morgue drawer against his will. Jack manages to find a way out of the
drawer, but how he does it is the secret to The Jacket.
Adrien Brody, who won an Academy Award for his role in Roman Polanski's The
Pianist, is perfect in the role of the haunted Starks. His physique and mannerisms
are a spot-on choice to play Starks, who is fragile in mind and body. Keira
Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) plays Jackie,
an alcoholic young woman who befriends Jack and tries to help him ease his
pain. She is fine in her role but this is clearly Brody's show.
Director John Maybury begins the film with a montage of Gulf War footage accompanied
by a melencholy musical score that manages to set the tone for the entire film.
The opening sequence of events kept me on edge as I tried to figure out what
type of movie I was about to experience. Is it a thriller? A drama? A horror
movie? It really turns out to be none of the above, but it is entertaining
and, ultimately, very good at what it does.
Unfortunately, I think the movie
missed making an impact at the box-office because it was marketed as a horror
movie with the slogan "Terror has
a new name." Um, sure. Hearing that makes you expect something that this
movie simply is not and never was supposed to be. It's more thought-provoking
than anything else. Sure, there are some holes in the plot and, to some, that
might be a reason to trash the movie as silly. Still, I found it to be moving
and engaging. If you liked Jacob's Ladder, you should enjoy The Jacket. Not
because they're similar plot-wise (which they're really not), but because they
are similar in terms of tone and atmosphere.
of Adrien Brody sobbing in the body drawer were real, for he had asked director
John Maybury to keep him locked in even when they weren't filming so he could
get the feel of the character's despair. Eventually, Brody lost it during
filming, and Maybury caught it on tape. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)