The Jacket DVD Review
Written by Sham
DVD released by Warner Bros.
Directed by John Maybury
Written by Massy Tadjedin
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 103 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on June 21st, 2005
Adrien Brody as Jack Starks
Keira Knightley as Jackie Price
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Lorsenson
Kris Kristofferson as Dr. Becker
Daniel Craig as Rudy Mackenzie
Brad Renfro as the Stranger
Kelly Lynch as Jean Price
Laura Marano as Young Jackie
Movies exist to provoke an emotional response from the viewer. The viewer provides that response to stimulate. In the case of The Jacket, the latest psychological thriller from John Maybury, both score high. This film is darkly rich in gothic style, powerfully performed, and wrapped so tight in suspense that the viewers themselves feel like they’re confined within the jacket’s clutching restraint. This is a flawed, but breathtaking film.
Adrien Brody (The Pianist) stars as Jack Starks, an American soldier in the Gulf War. After regrettably trusting one of the enemy’s young children, he is shot in the head. Miraculously, he seemingly comes back from the dead, much obliged to the doctors and nurses. Leaving Iraq as a veteran suffering from amnesia, he goes back home to Vermont, where he helps a little girl named Jackie Price (Laura Marano) and her intoxicated mother, Jean (Kelly Lynch – Joe Somebody), fix their broken down truck. He gives Jackie his dog tags after developing a friendly relationship with her, and she and her mother drive off after he has fixed their vehicle.
Later, when he is hitchhiking, a strange man (Brad Renfro – Apt Pupil) picks him up. They are pulled over by the police, and that was all Jack could remember. Now in court, he is being accused of the murder of a police officer. After he is found “not guilty due to temporary insanity,” he is sent to an insane asylum. And that’s when thing get really weird.
The head of the asylum, Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson – Blade, Blade II, Blade Trinity), sends Jack into a special kind of treatment, wrapping him in a straitjacket to keep him restrained, and locking him into a body drawer of the basement morgue. During this intense process, he begins having visions of the future, where he meets an adult Jackie (Keira Knightley – King Arthur, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), who is an exact replica of her mother. Jean is now dead, having burnt to death after passing out with a lit cigarette. Jackie is now dirty, poor, and unhappy, something that rubbed off on her from her deceased mother. And even worse, Jackie has no idea who Jack is, even though she still has the dog tags that he gave to her. “Jack Starks is dead!” she exclaims. Thus begins a mystery Jack must unfold, as he must know when and how he dies to prevent it from actually happening.
Heavily borrowing from other great films, most notably Jacob’s Ladder in historical war references and mysteries of fatality, The Jacket is an intense ride, packed with emotion that the two leading actors, Brody and Knightley, strongly portray on screen. Knightley plays the adult Jackie Price, and this is one of her best performances, as this is also one of the most complex characters she’s ever played. Brody is the shining star, however, as he renders Jack Starks with believability and intricacy. Jack is a multifaceted character, one that is extremely hard to play, and Brody seamlessly portrays him without transitioning from believable to overdramatic, something a lot of actors would do with this type of role. The two actors are at their strongest when they are together, as they have tremendous chemistry.
The Jacket is director John Maybury’s first American film. Maybury loves his close-ups, and every moment spent in the body drawer is a colossal montage of extreme close-ups and twisted apparitions. A true visionary, Maybury has directed this movie with an authentic sense of style, and it is only heightened with beautiful cinematography by Peter Deming. The look of the film is wonderful, and it’s one of The Jacket’s best qualities.
However, through all of its great qualities, it’s not a film for everyone. Some viewers may get lost in the time travel scenes. I’ll admit that some of the time travel sequences are not edited as well as they should be, and this diverts from the movie’s impact and effectiveness of the idea. The editor, Emma Hickox, is tremendous with the flashy visionary sequences that take us through time, but she uses too many quick cuts during scenes where nothing is going on, and this is distracting. It gets confusing once the film actually gets going, taking off at lightning speed, but it’s easy to get back on track once it’s done and enjoy the show.
And that you should, as The Jacket is one of the best thrillers I’ve seen this year.
Video and Audio:
The Jacket is presented in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio, preserving its original theatrical exhibition. I didn’t have any problems with it. No visible artifacts. No discoloration. Everything was clean and precise. The movie is carried by hints of gray, red, and bluish hues, so the video was great in presenting the film with its striking brilliance.
Audio is presented in English 5.1. While nothing spectacular, it certainly does get the job done. I could hear all of the actors just fine, and there was an occasional, but not persistent, use of the back speakers. There’s nothing ground-shaking or anything, except in the visuals that lead Jack into the future. This is fine, though, because this is not a loud or explosive film. It’s definitely good, and I didn’t have any major problems with it.
- The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes
- The Look of The Jacket: Special Effects Featurette
- Theatrical Trailers
Even though there isn’t much on this disc, the special features were a complete surprise, as they’re very enlightening and interesting, packing more quality than I had anticipated. The first feature is a 29 minute segment called “The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes.” This feature has nine deleted scenes, one alternate love scene, and three different alternate endings. While fun to watch, it’s easy to understand why the filmmakers didn’t include these scenes in the movie, and I am happy that they didn’t because they don’t enhance or strengthen the plot. Also in this segment is plenty of insightful information regarding script and casting issues.
Following that is a 9 minute, thoroughly illuminating behind-the-scenes bit called “The Look of The Jacket: Special Effects Featurette.” The title is self-explanatory, as the filmmakers explain how they came up with a few of the special effects, one detailing the end credit sequence which uses flowers, leaves, and other materials to create a flashy image template. Even though this isn’t a long featurette, it’s certainly intriguing and very informative.
The final features are theatrical trailers, which include House of Wax, Constantine, Eros, A Scanner Darkly, and The Jacket.
|Movie:||– A fantastic American debut from John Maybury. This is a great film.|
|Video:||– Almost spotless, the video preserves the film’s polished brilliance.|
|Audio:||– Nothing here will blow you away, but it certainly gets the job done.|
|Features:||– Fair in featurettes, but it could’ve used a commentary.|
|Overall:||– This is a fantastic film on a very decent DVD.|
If psychological horror isn’t your bag, then this is definitely not the film for you. However, rent it anyway, because it’s a great American debut from a talented, unknown director. This is for fans of slow-moving films with progressing anguish and regret. It’s the fear inside us that scares us the most, and The Jacket discovers that fear, yanks it out, and wraps it around us until we can’t even breathe. Think you’re up for The Jacket’s grip? Purchase it now.