A Gulf war veteran is wrongly sent to a mental institution for insane criminals, where he becomes the object of a Doctor's experiments, and his life is completely affected by them.
Release Year: 2005
Rating: 7.0/10 (50,480 voted)
Critic's Score: 44/100
Stars: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Daniel Craig
The film centers on a wounded Gulf war veteran who returns to his native Vermont suffering from bouts of amnesia. He is hitching and gets picked up by a stranger, things go pear shaped when a cop pulls them over and is murdered by the stranger. The vet. is wrongly accused of killing the cop and lands up in an asylum. A quack doctor prescribes a course of experimental therapy, restraining him in a heavy duty straight jacket-like device, and locks him away in a body drawer of the basement morgue. During course of his treatment he gets flashbacks and visions of his future , where he can foresee he is to die in four days time. The catch is he doesn't know how. Thus commences the classic race against time.
Writers: Tom Bleecker, Marc Rocco
Dr. Thomas Becker
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Dr. Beth Lorenson
When you die, all you want to do is come back.
Release Date: 4 March 2005
Filming Locations: Bangour Village Hospital, Dechmont, West Lothian, Scotland, UK
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $2,723,682
(6 March 2005)
(18 June 2006)
Did You Know?
Adrien Brody did sessions in an isolation tank, performed prison exercises, and went on a protein diet for his role as war vet Jack Starks.
When Jack and Jackie are at the diner, Jack grabs a cigarette and is holding it in one hand and the next shot from a different angle he has a lighter in the same hand. Then next shot from another angle he has the cigarette again and it is lit. However, in the next shot he lights the cigarette.
[Walking over to Iraqi child who's breathing hard]
How's it going little man? You all right?
[Babak pulls out gun. Jack puts his hand up in a stop gesture but Babak shoots Jack in the head. Jack falls to the ground]
Jacob's Ladder meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) is pronounced dead during the Gulf War.
Moments later, he shows signs of life again. He's discharged and tries
to get back to his normal life in Vermont. But he had a severe head
injury, he had amnesia for awhile, and he has periodic blackouts and
maybe hallucinations. When he winds up being blamed for a serious
crime, he is sent to a psychiatric prison. While there, he is subjected
to a bizarre treatment involving a straightjacket. Starks begins to
learn dark secrets about the hospital and surprising truths about his
life. Can he emerge from his predicament unscathed?
This is a high concept film–it's basically Jacob's Ladder (1990) meets
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975), with touches of similar "rubber
reality" and mental institution flicks thrown in for good measure–a
dash of Donnie Darko (2001), a touch of 12 Monkeys (1995), and so on.
That it resembles a high concept amalgamation of modern films may be
more surprising in light of the fact that the basic idea is adapted
from a 1915 Jack London novel, The Star Rover, which was published as
The Jacket in the UK.
It might also be surprising to some readers that I'm giving a film that
is so strongly derivative a 10. But I don't rate higher or lower based
on originality or a lack of the same. To me, what matters is how well
the film works, how well it is constructed for its ambitions. The
Jacket is a fine piece of art.
The performances are excellent. Adrien Brody in particular is amazing.
His turns in what amounts to an "isolation chamber" are breathtaking.
All of the principal actors, including Keira Knightley, Kris
Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Laura Marano and Kelly Lynch,
produce finely nuanced work. The characterizations are demanding, as
The Jacket requires them to play multiple realities, with different
knowledge, relationships and attitudes to each other in most of the
But as good as the performances are, what really stands out is the
direction. This is the first John Maybury film I've seen, and if it's
any indication of his other work, I can't wait to see more. His
direction is constantly inventive and challenging. For example, The
Jacket begins with grainy war footage like the typical CNN almost
"real-time" footage that was so popular during Operation Desert Storm.
Maybury cuts it to enhance the chaos of war. When he moves to a more
"normal" technique, he still exhibits a strong but subtle and unique
He is fond of unusual close-ups, frequently filling the screen with a
character's mouth, eye, one side of their face from the cheek up, and
so on. He also employs a lot of intriguing and bizarre inserts, and
frequently constructs scenes with unusual pacing, often slower than
other modern directors, or at least pulled like taffy on certain beats.
But it's always right for a particular scene. The Jacket has a complex
timeline structure that could easily fall apart in lesser hands;
Maybury keeps the film easily coherent, and provides just the right
amount of clues to the rubber reality aspects at just the right time.
Echoing the unusual, contemplative, directorial temporal manipulations
is a fine score (as if we could expect anything else) from Brian Eno.
As a rubber reality film, it's important to not watch The Jacket
expecting a neat, linear, tightly-wrapped and transparent plot. As is
typical for the genre, multiple interpretations are encouraged, with
little pushes and prods to help along audiences who might be reluctant
to embrace hermeneutics. For example, in one scene, a character says,
"We're all dead". And for less overt subtexts, it's worthwhile to note
how Jack often tends to be handled throughout the film more like a slab
of meat. But whatever your interpretation, an important and relatively
clear subtext is that of using one's life from this point forward to
the best of one's ability to effect the kind of world one would like to
see. Maybury makes sure to convey a disbelief in strong determinism,
although freedom from fate in the film comes at a cost, and it may not
be able to completely circumvent destiny.
Like Renny Harlin's version of The Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), The
Jacket is really a "difficult" film that is likely to be approached
with inappropriately philistine expectations that lead to complaints
that it is boring or in some other way inadequate, pointless or
non-entertaining. It deserves a more serious look than that. This is an