Bruce Willis, Richard Gere
[In November of 1997, Universal released The Jackal. The Film Doctor was there.]What's slow as molasses, stars Bruce Willis and Richard Gere, and should be on TV? This week's The Jackal. For a movie that takes itself ponderously seriously, I found myself giggling early on when a Russian mafia kingpin casually tomahawks one of his underlings in the head during a meeting and then proclaims "Gentlemen, I loved this man like a brother, but he failed me. Now imagine how I treat my enemy!" Anyway, this Russian honcho then hires the mysterious multi-identitied Bruce Willis to go out and kill someone major in America, and he'd better bloody well take his time too, for we still have two hours of movie to go.
So, Bruce steals a Canadian passport from some drunken schlep in the Helsinki airport, flies to Montreal, and, changing his hair style from scene to scene, he gradually puts together a fancy Gatling-or-something gun fully intended to wow people in the audience who get impressed by large ballistic gadgetry.
Meanwhile, back in the states, some Russian good guys, including a woman I'll call Major Slobotski (Diane Venore) with a fake burn scar on her face to signify B-movie toughness, team up with some FBI people, including a sadly wasted Sidney Poitier, to go after this jackal fellow. Since no one knows what he looks like, they go visit Richard Gere, who plays an Irish IRA man in prison, and he negotiates with them for awhile in the prison yard until Poitier agrees to let him tag along in the investigation.
The rest of the movie slides glacier-like toward a big deal political assassination scene straight out of The Manchurian Candidate.
To be fair, both Bruce Willis and Richard Gere acquit themselves pretty well given the rest of the film's resemblance to a Jackie Chan movie minus the karate action sequences (probably most of the budget went to cover the two stars' salaries). There's a lot of cutting to new locations where you can read where you are on the bottom of the screen in block letters for your idle amusement: Moscow, Chicago, Helsinki Airport, etc. Bruce looks very cool in most of his disguises, at one point looking eerily like Alan Dershowitz. Richard Gere fakes his Irish accent better than Brad Pitt did in The Devil's Own. Gere can look downright pixieish at times, surprising me by actually acting.
There are some set scenes that engage your attention in much the same way watching ants attack each other might--a hoodlum foams at the mouth and falls twitching to the ground after touching some poison cleverly planted by the jackal on the back of his mini-van, another man gets to run and scream and pant through the Canadian woods before getting shot into little pieces for Bruce's target practice. FBI agents fly in helicopters, in Air Force One-like jets (very posh), and in a totally superfluous large Marine carrier helicopter to help save the day.
IT will not miss next time;For instance, 2012 AD
For instance, 2012 AD 14's orbit will not bring it back to our neighborhood again until 2046, when Americans will still be paying for Barack Obama's recent borrowing.
Now, about that other bad news. According to the same computer calculations, in 2080 the orbit of 2012 AD 14, if unaltered in these next 67 years by some super-natural force like Bruce Willis, will slam into Earth at almost 18,000 miles an hour.
That explosive encounter, NASA says, will release about 2.5 megatons of energy into the atmosphere, causing "regional devastation."
Hopefully, that will occur over a desolate area like Siberia
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The Jackal (DIVX)
The Jackal (Combo Blu-ray and Standard DVD)
DVD (Universal Studios)
The Jackal [VHS]
Video (Universal Studios)