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The Jackal (1997)

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An imprisoned IRA sniper is freed to help stop a brutal, seemingly "faceless" assassin from completing his next job.


(earlier screenplay Day of the Jackal), (screen story), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Jackal (1997)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
FBI Agent McMurphy
FBI Director Donald Brown
The First Lady
Jamaican Girl
Terek Murad
Steve Bassett ...
George Decker


Russian mobster Terek Murad has declared open season on the Russian militia and the United States FBI over the shooting of his brother in a Moscow nightclub. He hires "The Jackal" -- an elusive, nasty assassin -- to kill FBI Director Donald Brown. Present at the shooting of Murad's brother were FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston and Major Valentina Koslova of the Russian militia. Nearly no one has ever seen The Jackal, save for Declan Mulqueen, an imprisoned IRA sniper. Upon learning that the Director Brown is a target, Preston and Koslova enlist the services of the reluctant Mulqueen to track down the Jackal before he can assassinate Brown. Written by Jeff Cross <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jackal | russian | fbi | assassin | ira | See more »


How do you stop an assassin who has no identity?

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| | | |



Release Date:

14 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Day of the Jackal  »

Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

DEM 4,764,153 (Germany) (13 March 1998)


DEM 15,218,058 (Germany) (3 April 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.39: 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The "Hotel Porvoo" is the old town hall (it's nowadays a museum) in Porvoo. The "Porvoo Post Office" is a furniture restoring service. See more »


When Witherspoon is shot by the Jackal at Isabela's house his blood stains disappear when you see the Jackal leaving. See more »


Declan Mulqueen: Preston, how about letting me have a gun.
Carter Preston: Are you crazy! If the right people knew I was letting you walk around without cuffs, I'd get forced retirement!
See more »


Referenced in 20 to 1: Hollywood's Hot List (2009) See more »


It's Over, It's Under
Written by Graham Edwards, Charlie Midnight, Nick Trevisick and Sierra Swan
Performed by Dollshead
Courtesy of Refuge Records, J.V.
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

6 September 1998 | by (Chicago, IL, US) – See all my reviews

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.    

29 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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