Film Review: “The Jacket”

Jack Starks has died. At least once.

While serving in the first Gulf War (a montage that eerily resembles current images from Iraq), Starks (Adrien Brody) is shot in the head and miraculously survives. Suffering from amnesia, he returns to a cold and barren Vermont and winds up in a mental institution after being involved in the murder of a police officer.

In the bowels of the institution Starks undergoes violent experimental treatment that essentially causes him to travel through time. At first, he cannot comprehend the meaning behind his time travel, but with the encouragement of a fellow patient, he begins to use the treatment to his advantage.

“The Jacket” is a standard psycho-thriller, but one that is emotionally compelling and well written. The story is not groundbreaking, but the characters are troubled souls with real grit. The film marks the triumphant return of Oscar winner Adrien Brody, the foppish doe-eyed star of 2002’s “The Pianist.” Brody is a compassionate and gentle creature whose true mental (and even life) status is always unclear. Keira Knightley, the chain-smoking Vermont waitress, Jackie, has (thankfully) departed from the blockbuster roles that made her famous. The film also features Kris Kristofferson and up-and-coming British actor Daniel Craig.

“The Jacket” was slotted as a Premiere film at Sundance, a category designed to showcase established directors and scheduled for nationwide release before the festival officially ended. The star power of Brody and Knightley made the film a big draw for both fans and press at the festival, with packed screenings nearly erupting into a fistfight for seats, and Brody and Knightley hustling in and out to avoid autograph mobs.

Of all the films shown at Sundance, this one seems most likely to reach the GW community. Although the idea of time travel certainly isn’t new, “The Jacket” is a compelling story and a fine ride as entertainment goes. And at the very least, Knightley’s nude scene is something to draw the lads off the streets.

“The Jacket” opens Friday, March 4 in Washington, D.C.

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