222 – The Jacket

Jack (Adrien Brody), a near-casualty in the Gulf War, returns home a shell of his former self and is accused and convicted of murdering a police officer, which he doesn’t remember. Remanded to a sanitarium, Jack undergoes an unusual type of therapy at the hands of Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson) that involves being strapped inside a straitjacket and tossed into a morgue drawer for hours, even nights.

During his time in the drawer, Jack – mostly deprived of his senses – finds he has the ability to time travel some 15 years into the future, where he sees some of the consequences of the actions of the past. Does he risk changing the future to protect the present?

Alternately turgid and creepy, The Jacket relies a little too much on Brody’s expressive, elongated face to move the story along. His work here isn’t bad at all, really, but the plot doesn’t always hold up to close scrutiny.

Before his arrest, Jack had encountered a woman and her young daughter alongside their disabled truck. Jack gives his dog tags to the girl and fixes the vehicle, receiving no thanks for his aid. But while in the jacket, Jack encounters a sad, disillusioned diner waitress who just happens to possess his old dog tags.

Luckily for Jack and the audience, it doesn’t take long for him to figure out what’s happening when he’s put into the drawer; the question is how he can use the information he’s gleaned to make things better for the girl and her mother. Thrown in for good measure are the requisite Convincing a Good Doctor (a bespectacled Jennifer Jason Leigh) of His Time Traveling and Confronting the Not-Bad-but-Misguided Doctor. Oh, and figuring out who really killed the cop in the first place.

The plot itself isn’t terribly complicated, which is certainly a relief, but it moves so slowly at times that such a benefit is rendered moot. As good of an actor that Brody (and the disheveled, gothlike Keira Knightley) is, all the clever emoting in the world can’t make up for a pace somewhat akin to jogging in mud.

One major saving grace, though, is the ending, which feels very sincere and is in fact quite heart rendering. Very well played, even if the rest of the film isn’t terribly rewarding.

The Jacket: **

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