Nick is a struggling dentist in Canada. A new neighbor moves in, and he discovers that it is Jimmy "The Tulip" Teduski. His wife convinces him to go to Chicago and inform the mob boss who wants Jimmy dead.
Coming from a police family, Tom Hardy ends up fighting his uncle after the murder of his father. Tom believes the killer is another cop, and goes on the record with his allegations. Demoted then to river duty, the killer taunts Tom.
Sarah Jessica Parker,
An aging alcoholic cop is assigned the task of escorting a witness from police custody to a courthouse 16 blocks away. There are, however, chaotic forces at work that prevent them from making it in one piece.
In Moscow, the FBI and their Russian counterpart, the MVD, are working on a joint mission to apprehend Russian mobster Ghazzi Murad specifically for the murder of Mayor Nikolai Semankho. During the arrest, they are forced to kill Ghazzi. Ghazzi's brother, Terek Murad, also a mobster, begins his own form of deadly retribution against the MVD for Ghazzi's death. But the FBI and MVD also get wind that Terek has hired an assassin by the code name Jackal to carry out a hit on a high profile but unknown American target for the Americans sticking their nose in Russian affairs. Intelligence points to that target being Donald Brown, the Director of the FBI. The Jackal is known only by name and reputation but no one in authority knows who he is, what he looks like or if he even really exists. They learn of only one person alive who they know has had ties to the Jackal: former Basque separatist Isabella Zanconia, whose whereabouts are unknown. As such, the FBI and MVD decide to turn to the one ... Written by
The 1973 "Day of the Jackal", directed by Fred Zinnemann from the Frederick Forsyth novel, while not a masterpiece in the general scheme of things, was nevertheless quite an above-average thriller, written and carried out with considerable panache, wit, and style. It remains a pleasure to rent and watch now and then.
In adapting that for the 1997 "The Jackal", it seems that at every turn the writers and director made the worst possible choice, making it all quite leaden, overdone, unsuspenseful, unsurprising, unsexy, and unthrilling. If we put together a catalog of all the specifics that went into this movie, big and small, I could give you a mini-essay for each topic on how the 1997 adaptation ****ed up.
Item: the weapon.
In the original, there is considerable intrigue over how the assassin is going to smuggle it onto the scene, how he intends to disguise it, and why it needs custom work from his underground craftsmen. In the remake, they apparently thought that today's action-flick-raised audiences wouldn't tolerate a small rifle whose point is precision and would demand the lugubrious off-the-ck-market-]shelf machine gun, which needs a minivan to transport it, and whose point is to shout Macho. The whole involved and interesting business about disguising its components, has been reduced to showing us (repeatedly, like this is a difficult point to follow?) that the joystick for his absurdly high-tech remote-control system has been in his pocket as a pen.
Item: the conspirators and motive.
Without resorting to dry lecture, the original still manages to give us a good understanding of the historical situation of the "pieds-noirs" [ "blackfeet"], the French-Algerian irredentists who could not accept that the century was moving away from colonialism, and formed the view that De Gaulle had betrayed them. This gives the whole plot some historical weight. The remake seems to leave it as a gangland-shootout revenge story, minimally spicing it up by making them Russian gangsters. Note please that I'm not opposed to updating: they could have done this intelligently and come up with something more current but non-trivial. Certainly Russia and the rest of ex-USSR have been through huge changes of late, and an updated story could have been situated there in a way that would make us feel that it *matters*.
Item: the relationship of the assassin on the run and the police hunting him down; and the complex steering of the viewer's sympathies from the bad guy to the good guy.
Above I hesitated somewhat at calling the original a masterpiece overall; but in this aspect it really was one. We follow along with the assassin for much of the first portions of the film, and having seen his cleverness and resourcefulness we begin to admire him, and not want to see his plan thwarted or see him caught -- at least, not too soon! Then we meet the policeman who gets pushed into heading up the investigation / protection efforts, and bit-by-bit we take to him, and see he is not the sad-sack his domestic troubles may have suggested. By the time it matters, we have been won over to his side.
In the remake, perhaps Poitier could have handled that sort of development , but Gere sure can't. And the absurd "48 Hours"-derived gimmick of the con brought out to help the police should have been left in those comedies where it came from.
The remake has the assassin and the assassin-hunter *talk* about how they 're like players above a chessboard, communicating indirectly via their moves and only able to *infer* what the other is like. That was achieved superbly in the original. But in the remake in fact they're brought into face-to-face confrontation way too soon, so they can grimace at each other, bloody the place up, and go through some fairly standard chase scenes.
Item: photography, and "scenery".
The remake does have some nice images, particularly in snowy Finland in the opening section. But the Washington, D.C Metro cannot really compete with the streets of Paris for interesting perspectives and bystander faces.
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