The Jacket (2005)

Rating: C-

Dir: John Maybury
Star: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Jack Starks is in a mental asylum, undergoing treatment for the murder of a cop he swears he didn’t commit. But the drugs and sensory deprivation have a side-effect: he finds himself fourteen years further on. Which is odd, because he learns there, he died almost fourteen years previously. Can he sort things out in his future, before he dies in the past? That’s a simplified version of this trippy psychological flick, which generally works better when it isn’t making sense, since the cast are generally much better than the script [save Knightley, who initially appears to be channelling Helena Bonham-Carter from Fight Club]. Though I can’t help thinking, you are in serious trouble, when Kris Kristofferson is in charge of your mental health…

The visual side is also quite well handled, but there’s precious little about the plot or characters to pull you in; and after the moment of “Ah-ha!”, when you work out the basic concept involved, not many surprises either. It also doesn’t address the inevitable paradox, seen in most time-travel movies – in this case reversed temporally, from the more common, Terminator paradox. [If you go into the future, and change the past so that you don’t need to change the future, how can you then change the past? Er… Or something like that.] Maybury’s failure to address this issue, is the elephant in the room here, and a glaring omission when a film is apparently trying to be intelligent and thoughtful. While it is possible to get away with this, you must be able to really command your audience’s emotions. Perhaps that’s the main failing here; you just don’t care what happens to Starks, and as a result, any gaps in the story-line feel much more significant.