Caton-Jones once described himself as a set-em-up and shoot 'em director. He sees himself as a journeyman then, which is fair enough, it's hard enough to forge a career in film as it is; but his 'Rob Roy' shows he's capable of more. Still, it's to his credit that he keeps this shambles on the road, but that's half the trouble. His competence prevents this turkey from becoming the laughter riot it needs to be in order to be truly entertaining.
I won't bore you with the daft plot details. But what's this? I've just received a fax telling me that my dog has been kidnapped and I won't see him alive again if I don't. Blimey, okay then. Did you know that the KGB allows the FBI to bust Russian Mafiosa in the heart of Moscow? In fact, they're best buddies now, and the KGB is invited over to run around the USA too. So it was only ever a luke-warm war then. In fact, if a Russian nuclear submarine was ever to sink they'd call their American buddies straight away for help. Anyway, the Russian mafia man Terek Murad is mildly miffed at the death of his brother in the afore-mentioned raid and gives one of his serfs a splitting (not to mention life-long) headache for failing to protect him. "I loved that man like a brother. So I took no joy in that. Imagine what I can do with someone I hate," he tells the assembled mobsters. Bravo! Encore! The orchestra stands. Garlands fly. Tears flow. A superb delivery of a classic line. Familiarity can never wither it's sweet bloom. Long may it reign. "Imagine what I can do to someone I hate." Well, actually I can. You give them a Tom Cruise video.
Meanwhile, the FBI man involved in the Moscow raid, Carter Preston, is in Ireland to get an IRA man released from prison to help him find the Jackal who has been hired by Murad to exact a bloody and unknown terrorist outrage in the States. The terrorist, Declan McQueen (giggle) is not like those other nasty provos. He doesn't bomb. An attitude that no doubt made him a man to trust within the organization. Maybe he just handled the cloakroom during army council meetings. Or did the sandwiches. You see, our Declan is a man of integrity. Instead of hiding behind a bush and blowing the legs off people he just shoots them instead. Hey, there's a war on, you know. Or so Declan tells us. Hang on a minute, wasn't an IRA man involved with the deal to partition the country in the first place? Blimey, I do wish they'd make their minds up. One minute it's peace on, then next minute it's peace off. Anyway, to hell with politics, this is Hollywood. On with the action! Or in-action in this case. So Declan is released by a curiously magnanimous British government (HA!) to accompany Mr.Porter and a chain smoking Russian agent named Koslova to find Declan's ex-wife Isabella, who has seen the Jackal's face and is also a Basque terrorist turned housewife. So what did she do in that terrorist organization, make the tea? Is she cuddly too? Still, if a bottle top gets stuck in the kitchen she can always shoot it off. Koslova ignores Isabella slipping Declan a key to his cuffs. After all, he's no danger to the public, just a cuddly chap who shoots people he disagrees with. Declan reveals to Preston that he too has seen the Jackal while being double crossed during a Libyan arms deal. What, arms that were intended to be sent to Ireland to blow up innocent people? But he said he doesn't bomb. He just let's someone else do it. So that's alright then, he's still cuddly. He only bombs when he tries to do an Irish accent.
Meanwhile, the Jackal is taking a different approach to his predecessor Edward Fox, who disposed of a blackmailer with a discreet karate chop and then hid the body in a trunk. Taking a more subtle approach in this remake, our Jackal takes the blackmailer to the wide outdoors and proceeds to shoot at him for several minutes with a very big and loud gun followed by the blowing up of his car in a massive explosion that must have been heard for miles around. Later on, our hero Declan has traced the bad guy to a boat race moored in a harbour. Preston, realising that some people are born cuddly while others have cuddlyness thrust upon them, lets our Declan go wandering off on his own to find the Jackal but without a walky-talky. What's he supposed to do when he finds him, jump up and down screaming "HE'S HERE! THE *******'S HERE!"? Thus getting himself shot at. Saved by Koslova, Declan is mysteriously promoted to what looks like the boss of the whole FBI operation. But hang on, since Koslova got a good look at the Jackal's face, hasn't Declan's involvement become redundant thus earning him a one-way ticket back to the nick? But NO! They need him. He's indispensable. He's a grubby little sniper. He's...he's...Irish? Yes, that's it, he's IRISH! And looks a bit like Richard Gere. Funny that. And this time it's personal. The 'war' in Ireland, his big calling, is forgotten. Meanwhile, our highly professional and single-minded Jackal decides to stage an entirely superfluous attack on Koslova who is guarding Isabella in a house. He is also somehow able to determine how many people are inside and outside the house at any given moment from a vantage point hiding in a dark closet under the stairs. Must have x-ray specs on. Finally, after serving up a little lead salad, he leaves giving Koslova a clue as to his intended target. My God, he must want that $70m so badly. Anyway, she got off lightly. Think what he might do to people he actually HATES. Like leave a map with arrows. I mean, can you imagine Edward Fox's Jackal poisoning his van's door handles thus leaving a somewhat conspicuous corpse next to it in a public car park? AND he was only offered a million in that film. Perhaps This Jackal prefers a cat and mouse game. But a mouse doesn't usually send up flares.
So finally getting his mind back to the job in hand, our Jackal decamps to a speech given by the first lady where he sits inconspicuously next to an open van with a large gun sticking out the back of it. But our Declan has sussed his move and is on the roof looking for him through the sights of a rifle. Will he be able to shoot the Jackal or will his shooting arm be irresistibly drawn towards some innocent civilians? Old habits die hard. However, the Jackal legs it into the subway and spotting Declan looking for him in the crowd, decides to do the sensible international man of mystery thing by staring directly back at Declan. With conveniently dyed blonde hair. A chase reaches on to another platform which is mysteriously empty. Have all the people suddenly left to join the IRA? Including the police? After all, an organization that is full of members refusing to bomb things must need all the help it can get. Our Declan is soon in a sticky situation with the Jackal after exchanging his gun for a child hostage (what a guy. So cuddly. I'm seeing fluffy bunnies!) But the Jackal is taking an awful long time to shoot him. But help is at hand. It's Isabella! Blimey, what a coincidence. She must have been out shopping for banana clips and other house hold appliances. Well, Carter Porter is impressed by our homicidal man of the people. So he decides to look the other way and let Declan wander off. How heart warming. Just imagine if that was a British film and that was one of the Oklahoma bombers Scotland Yard let disappear into the sunset. Really gets you there, doesn't it?
Well, it's a very long and boring review, but let me tell you, it's not a long and boring film. This is a GREAT film. A masterpiece. It's amazing. Wonderful. Encore! Author! Now please release my dog. Mind you, if it's the Jackal who has done the kidnapping I've nothing to worry about. He could use cyanide, a tank, an Uzi, 100 pounds of plastic explosives, the Iraqi air gun, chemical weapons and last but not least, a small nuclear device and the pooch would still be left smiling and breathing untouched. Could you just do me a favour Mr Jackal, and feed him for me, before releasing him? No, not that end, the one that barks.
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