The Jacket

on March 04, 2005 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
"I was 27 the first time I died." That dramatic opening line from "The Jacket," Adrien Brody's new film, promises thrills that the movie utterly fails to deliver. Brody plays Jack Starks, a U.S. soldier shot in 1991 by an Iraqi kid. One year later, he's back home in Vermont, hitchhiking in the largely deserted countryside. He stumbles across an inebriated young woman and her daughter and helps them start their car. Later, he gets picked up by another guy. There's a murder and Starks ends up in a psychiatric institution where he is experimented upon by a shady doctor (Kris Kristofferson). As a result of that experience, he travels through time to 2007, where he gets a chance to change history with the help of the now grown-up daughter (Keira Knightley) Starks first met in 1992.

Neither as inept as "Primer" nor as clever as "Memento," while stealing liberally from "Jacob's Ladder‚" "The Jacket" is content to moralize in a very obvious way about getting second chances in life. It's a gloomy movie burdened with ugly characters, dull exposition and predictable plot developments. It's also at heart singularly unimaginative, despite its science-fiction trappings. Brody pretty much sleepwalks his way through the film as the shell-shocked Starks; there's little here to remind one of his stellar Oscar-winning turn in "The Pianist‚" nor much to make us care about the protagonist. The rest of the cast is equally lackluster, serving more as a template of acting careers gone seriously astray (Kelly Lynch as Knightley's troubled mom, Jennifer Jason Leigh as an honest doctor) than anything else. "The Jacket" may not be the worst thing out there but it's eminently forgettable. Starring Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kris Kristofferson. Directed by John Maybury. Written by Massy Tadjedin and Marc Rocco. Produced by George Clooney, Marc Frydman, Peter Guber and Steven Soderbergh. A Warner Independent release. Drama/Thriller. Rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality/nudity. Running time: 103 mi

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