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The Jackal, starring Bruce Willis and Richard Gere -- A Movie Review, Day of the Jackal Remake

Updated on April 20, 2014
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Might not hold up to the original, but Bruce Willis makes this a good film

4 stars for The Jackal movie starring Bruce Willis
The Jackal (Combo Blu-ray and Standard DVD)
The Jackal (Combo Blu-ray and Standard DVD)

The reviewed movie, which is an excellent choice for anyone who likes action and intrigue. This is one of this reviewer's favorite performances from Bruce Willis.

 

This is the tale of the deadliest man on earth, known only as The Jackal (Bruce Willis). He charges millions of dollars for high-profile assassinations, and never fails. His employers are unknown, no one knows his target unless he chooses to tell them, and only one man knows what he even looks like. What can be done to fight against such a person? That’s the burning question when word reaches the higher echelons of government that one of their own is the next target. FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston (Sidney Poitier) and Major Valentina Koslova (Diane Venora) are charged with apprehending this almost otherworldly  killer before he has a chance to fulfill a contract on the director of the FBI (John Cunningham). With time running out, their only hope is Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere), a maximum-security inmate thanks to his illustrious career in the IRA – and the only known person to have ever seen The Jackal.

This is a remake of the 70s thriller The Day of the Jackal, which was remade with these big-name stars in the 90s. Unlike other remakes, word has it that The Jackal is a play-by-play replica of that earlier film, though beyond that I am unable to draw comparisons since I have yet to see The Day of the Jackal. Solely on its own merit, this is an engaging plot, but with some definite faults in pacing. I don’t know if the script writers, director, or others thought they were building suspense with that slow pacing, but the result in several parts was just plain boring.

What The Jackal does have are some good bloody special effects.  Thanks to a couple of particularly gory scenes, this is definitely not a film for the whole family. Viewers must suspend disbelief through quite a few of the action scenes when, by all rights, those involved should have died. My husband put it best, "If this guy is supposed to be so deadly, why is he such a lousy marksman?" Sure, it would kind of dampen the drama if everyone died right off the bat, but there could have been a little more effort for believability than having people shielded by things that bullets should have gone right through, or numerous short-range shots with no obstacles that also missed.

The only real salvation in this entire movie is the acting. Prior to this movie, seeing Bruce Willis in an antagonistic role was a rare treat – but when he’s a bad guy, he does it exceptionally well. Willis’ easy manner and perfectly disguisable features make him a great choice for the role of a human chameleon. The other characters were pretty two-dimensional, but the actors chosen to play them helped flesh out their characters into something resembling real people.

It’s hard to find a good fit in an audience for this movie. On the one hand, the blood and gore may be a turn-off to people who enjoy suspense; on the other, the sometimes painfully slow pace is a likely turn-off to action and thriller fans. In other words, this movie takes a pretty particular viewer to appreciate it. While most of the actors are reasonably popular, most of them are known for types of movies that don’t quite jibe with this one (with the exception of Willis’ Die Hard roles). Fans of these actors may initially be attracted to the film just to find out that it’s not what they expected. That said, if you can stand the pacing, The Jackal is still a worthwhile watch.

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