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Lots of thrills, but lots of absurdity
kentashcraft23 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Although The Jackal is one of my favorite films, due to the fine acting of all the principal players (especially Diane Venora), and good direction of the action scenes, the plot contains an amazing number of outright ludicrous elements that I must protest. Taking it from the beginning: In the opening scene, a coalition of police forces storms a Moscow nightclub to arrest a Russian gang figure named Gazzi. Now, as any policeman knows, the first thing you do in an arrest is handcuff the perp. But in this case, despite their overwhelming numbers and armament, Major Koslova (Venora) and Carter Preston (Sidney Poitier), stand and argue with the guy for a few minutes while the other police stand by and do nothing. This, of course, allows Gazzi to get the jump on Koslova with a knife. Not the greatest police work. Then as Gazzi and Koslova struggle, she manages to get her gun free and shoot him. A few minutes later Preston thanks her for saving his life. His life? She was the one he was trying to kill.

For revenge, Gazzi's brother hires the Jackal (Bruce Willis) to perform an assassination of, as it turns out, the First Lady of the U.S. In the next scene, the Jackal purchases a weapon on the internet - from some sort of eBay for terrorists, it would seem. He chooses a huge Gatling gun that fires monstrous depleted uranium bullets at an advertised 1400 rounds a minute (although if you time the actual firing later in the film, it isn't even a third of that rate). Now the question is: Was he high? If you want to kill a single person the best weapon is a sniper rifle of some kind, like the one used by the Jackal in the original novel. One of those would have been infinitely easier to acquire, transport, and hide. Instead he buys a machine cannon that would be more appropriate for engaging an entire army division. Okay, dramatic license, but please.

He smuggles the giant weapon to Canada, and there he contracts a local techno-hood (Jack Black) to build him a remote controlled firing apparatus. He tells the hood he doesn't want to attract any attention, and demands that he turn over the blueprints for the thing when he is finished. Then when the hood asks him or a few thousand bucks for the plans (out of 70 million the Jackal is being paid), he takes the guy out into the woods and uses him for target practice with his weapon, leaving the corpse and several hundred somewhat unusual depleted uranium bullets for the authorities to find. How's that for not attracting attention? In the book, the Jackal kills the guy in his house and hides the body, much more credibly.

After the gruesome murder scene is quickly discovered, Preston and Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere) fly up to Canada and locate the hood's shop, where they find the blueprints for the firing station that were so important for the Jackal to destroy, although after he'd killed Black, the Jackal seems to have decided the blueprints weren't worth going back to the shop for. This is a guy that is the absolute best at his trade? Mulqueen takes one look at the plans for the device, which had nothing to do with the weapon itself except to mount it and fire it, and immediately deduces the exact cyclic rate of the weapon's automatic fire. Brainy.

The Jackal manages to smuggle the weapon across Lake Michigan on a pleasure boat, and as he's docked at a marina he spies Mulqueen, who appears to be searching for him (Mulqueen had not yet seen him at that point). Does he try to hide, to appear inconspicuous, to keep a low profile? No, he pulls out a gun and starts firing at Mulqueen! How's that for not attracting attention? Then he has to make a screaming getaway in his van. Great plan, for someone whose success depends on not being discovered.

For her safety, Mulqueen's former lover Isabella (Mathilda May) is moved out of her house by the FBI people, who fear the Jackal may come after her. Why he might be after her is never explained (perhaps he would need a pleasantly sadistic diversion from the tedious job of planning an assassination). Rather than leave the house empty, Koslova and an FBI agent remain in it, sitting ducks. Why? At one point they realize the Jackal is probably inside the house (they were outside at the time). Do they call for backup? Do they establish a perimeter and contain him, knowing that they have him boxed in? No, of course not. They run back into the house, where the Jackal, hiding and waiting for them, kills them both. Police Work 101? In the film's climactic scene, the Jackal and Mulqueen face off in a DC Metro station in the middle of the day. The scene is a good 5 minutes long, and for the duration of it no one else (except for Isabella) appears in the station. Even assuming that all the riders had been scared away by the gunplay, it's hard to imagine that no police of any variety showed up. Maybe the director waved them out.

Considering the competence of the good guys and the bad guy, it's surprising anybody won.
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A fine action movie. Strong cast and excellent story line
jupiters-250-81384427 February 2015
I had seen some fairly negative reviews about this film and as the "Day of the Jackal" is very high in my estimation, I was expecting to watch something less than excellent. I was astounded to find that "The Jackal" is at least as good and in some respects better. The production values greatly transform the film; the budget was well spent and the result is total credibility. A strong cast helps; Willis is brilliant as the cold, chameleon-like central character. Poitier and of course Gere are equally superb. Jack Black is at home with the role of technological wizard; who of course has an Achilles heel; as his hippy, cool persona reveals. Highly recommended.
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An underrated thriller undeserving of all the hate.
CuriosityKilledShawn28 April 2012
I've never understood why The Jackal has been cursed with poor reviews from pretty much everybody. From the day I saw it as a 17-year-old in January 1998 I always found it entertaining and exciting. This might be down to the fact that I have never seen the 1973 original.

Brucie plays a nameless assassin, cool as ice and utterly emotionless. Richard Gere is the only man to have seen him. He's let out of prison to assist the FBI in catching the Jackal before he takes out an uncertain high-ranking official. Willis and Gere are, for the most part, leading their own movies as they never meet until the climax. It's very interesting watching them both go about their business, Willis hatching a master plan and Gere methodically picking apart his trail and hunting him down. There is great support from Sidney Poitier and cutie-pie Diane Venora as a scarred Russian cop.

With a wide variety of brilliantly photographed locations across the US and Canada, and plot with a medium-level of complexity it's not entirely brainless viewing but not too taxing as to alienate lazy viewers. I honestly do not get why so many people hate it. Willis has done far worse films (even seen Mercury Rising?) that get off scot-free somehow, but The Jackal doesn't get off so lightly. Aside from Gere's slightly dodgy Oirish accent I have no complaints about this film. Give it a chance and you might just be entertained.
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Daft, noisy and senseless - but it's still quite fun
bob the moo17 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
In retaliation for the FBI war against the mob in Russian, the mob pay famous assassin Carlos the Jackal to kill a senior figure in the US government. FBI deputy director Preston discovers that the Jackal has been contracted out he contacts one of the few men who can identify him - IRA gunman Declan Mulqueen. With the Jackal moving freely within the US it is a race against time to find and stop him before he reaches his target.

Before he died, the director of "The Day of the Jackal", Zinnermann approached Universal to have the name changed so that it wouldn't be so closely associated with his own film. They didn't change it and it's easy to see what his point was. The plot of this is a bit silly and doesn't have any intelligence or subtlety. The Jackal is careful is some scenes but takes on FBI agents in others, he covers all his tracks in designing his gun, but he kills the builder and leaves the plans for the FBI to find! It doesn't totally make sense - things are tidied up too easily - Mulqueen finds the Jackal too easily when the film needs a boost of action.

Willis is OK as the Jackal but he's not totally convincing because he usually plays roles where he runs round shooting, rather than being a very clinical hitman who only fires one shot then leaves undetected. Even here he does some planning but he only looks comfortable when in running gun battles. Gere is good in an action man role (I'm not a big fan), but he has one of the worst Northern Irish accents even put on the big screen - it goes from N.Ireland to Southern Ireland and back again from one scene to the next. Poitier is a classy inclusion in the pack but doesn't have much to do but act tough beside Gere. Support is interesting, but they don't have much to do - Jack Black was great in High Fidelity, but is cannon fodder here. J.K. Simmons is amazing in Oz but is just an agent here. Venora is good despite a very heavy accent. Sophie Okonedo is beautiful as she was in various British TV series but only has a few fleeting lines of dialogue. And Leslie Phillips is wasted in such a small cameo of little significance that you wonder why he bothered.

The whole plot sits funny with me - I really don't understand why Gere's character had to be an IRA murderer. There's an early scene where he's verbally attacked by one of the FBI for killing women and children, but he's given time to defend himself. After that we all forget who he is and everyone loves him. The final act of the film left a bitter taste in my mouth (I grew up in NI), and you can't help but wonder who in America wants to promote the IRA as somehow honourable or sympathetic (also see "The Devil's Own") - I wonder if Hollywood understands now how offending it is to see terrorists displayed in this way?

Overall, it's quite fun in a brash, loud sort of way - but ultimately it'll leave you wondering what you just watched and "how did that happen" and "hang on that bit doesn't work". As a distracting blockbuster it's quite good but as a relative of 1973's "Day of the Jackal" it's an illegitimate third cousin.
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Different from the original, but still quite good
bsinc16 February 2002
I was sure this movie was going to be a disappointment, but after seeing it I have to say I was deeply wrong. Sure, the story has numerous big holes (Gere knows the operating technique of his opponent so well and down to the last detail, you'd think they used to live together from the moment they were born - total exaggeration, another example are the lame effects when he's between two trains), and Gere's dialect is way off (for some reason it didn't bother me at all), but the rest is pure action and entertainment extravaganza. Bruce Willis was a perfect choice for the Jackal and Sidney Poitier was as always amazing and really helped the atmosphere of the movie with his role. The ending was a bit short, but in my opinion necessary, because I knew what was going to happen, so why delay it. Nicely done, and great music. 7/10
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Tense, fast-paced, but sort of ordinary suspense thriller
mstomaso27 March 2005
You can't really approach this as a remake of the classic 'The Day of The Jackal.' Though broadly similar, the entire feel of the two films is incomparable. And suspense thrillers are all about "the feel" aren't they?

The story is pretty standard fair - a super villain assassin (Willis) is going to make a big kill using a huge weapon and leaving a trail of bodies along the way. Gere, an IRA soldier (jailed for "terrorism") is brought on as consultant because he is one of the few people who has seen 'the Jackal", and given a few vague promises in exchange for his help. As it turns out, Gere has more than just knowledge - he has a vendetta. Poitier oversees Gere and the investigation of Willis, and comes to realize that Gere is the only hope of stopping him.

I like Sidney Poitier, Bruce Willis and Richard Gere, so I was predisposed to like this film. I was neither very surprised nor disappointed. The Jackal is entertaining and the performances are strong. Poitier is always a class act, and Willis and Gere have terrific anti-chemistry. There's nothing wrong with the cinematography or directing, and the pace of the film, though a little breathless, is fine. Regardless, the story-line never reached much beyond the ordinary thriller fare. Making a truly great thriller requires either doing something really original (very hard to do) or using a truly inspired script. This film's script is decent, but the story line could have used a little more careful thought and a bit more complexity.
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Stop comparing the two "Jackals"... it's useless
CherryBlossomBoy23 March 2011
I had a bit of fun reading through user comments on Jackal, and there are two perpetuating issues in about 90 percent of them: 1) this "version" of "Jackal" has nothing on the original (because the original was "oh so great") 2) only idiots enjoyed this version (because its plot is silly).

My response would be: 1) the original wasn't so great either (go ahead and jump at me) 2) anybody who thinks only an idiot would enjoy silly movies is an idiot himself.

On the first point - why is even so necessary to compare remakes to originals if they can stand perfectly on their own? This one can. In fact it even has advantages over its classic predecessor, such as better editing, better cinematography and even better acting. You may think I'm holding onto a straw here by nitpicking but I'm an odd person that values the benefits of modern productions.

On the second point - if silliness (better yet stupidity) of the plot was the criteria by which to avoid the movie, I would probably have seen only about a dozen movies in my lifetime. I would have avoided Bond movies, period movies, parodies and what not. And I'd be poorer for that. So, forget silliness, it's no big deal.

Now a little on the movie itself. The plot is indeed stupid (for an in-depth analysis I recommend reading hilarious Roger Ebert's review). The cast reversal is also a bit of misfortune as Gere was initially supposed to be the Jackal. The fact that the role eventually went to Bruce Willis, together with adventuristic nature of Jackal's business, made me root for the bad guy as I never did before. He is conceived as sort of an upgraded James Bond here, being more ruthless, with drier sense of humor and taking advantage of both sexes (not only females) to his cause.

I don't know if making bad guy look good was the intention on part of the film crew, but it turned out a very subversive move for a typical Hollywood venture (making an IRA terrorist that pursues Jackal a likable guy as well is probably another one, but I wont go into that). All in all, it was a suspenseful voyage with such a good pace that you don't care about the shortcomings at the first viewing, so I say it's recommendable. There are certainly far worse ways you could waste two hours.
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Big Gay Bruce and his Big Gay Death Cannon
j30bell4 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Roll up! Roll up! It's Big Gay Bruce and his Big Gay Death Cannon! Plausible plot? Unnecessary! Decent acting? Unnecessary! Respect shown to its mighty progenitor? Unnecessary! Yes it's another offensively stuffed turkey in the Butch Bruce canon.

I mean where do you start with this film? Okay, let's begin with the woeful misapprehension people might have that this was, in some way, related to either the book or the original film, The Day of the Jackal. It's not. In fact it's so different (and so bad) that Fredrick Forsyth asked to have his name taken off it. Now I'm not necessarily a stuffy Brit who can't hack Hollywood remaking British films. Well, okay, maybe I am a bit like that, but fortunately it's a redundant point in this case. This film is so different to the original that the name and the odd reference are the only things that survive.

Now let's move to the premise. Cheesy Russian gangster gets killed in a Moscow police raid (somehow involving the FBI although no one bothers to explain why). In revenge, brother of gangster decides to wreak vengeance by killing the wife of the US President (although again no one bothers to explain why this is a good move – although to be fair it was pre-9-11, so he wasn't to know it would have resulted in the US airforce carpet bombing Eastern Europe). Gangster hires "nasty" killer (Willis). Police hire "cuddly" killer (Gere), "cuddly" killer tracks "nasty" killer. Police fanny around and periodically get killed. "Cuddly" killer kills "nasty" killer. First lady is saved and we all realise that the IRA are just this bunch of real sweet guys y'know, who just happen to want to kill innocent people. Nice.

Let's put to one side the distasteful Hollywood habit of playing in the troubles of Northern Ireland like it was a sandpit in a theme park (I deal with this point more extensively on the message boards). If Hollywood directors want to cast the Belfast butchers as hookers with hearts of gold, that's up to them. I, of course, reserve the right to despise them for it. It's a free country.

More egregious, however, is the fact that the film manages to patronise and insult the Irish while trying to support them. That's not politically distasteful, it's far worse: it's incompetent. It's no wonder, for instance, that Gere still looks so damn good, given that he slept through the entire six months it took to make this piece of cra*p. The fact that Gere's accent is not only Southern Irish, but an appalling parody of Southern Irish shows that the filmmakers weren't looking much beyond America to make money from this film. Then there is that lovely scene at the end where Sidney Poitier (a complete waste of space in this film) says he's off for a coffee, offers to get our "cuddly" IRA man one, then casually says "Ah, but then you guys drink Guinness don't you". Yeah that's right Sidney; the Irish live on Guinness and potatoes.

While we're on the subject of Poitier: why? In the original film the detective is the tracker. In Jackal, Gere is the tracker. So what does Poitier do? Well, he just hangs around and looks like a tw*at of course. He's got absolutely nothing to do apart from call in the marines at the end, and he only does this because the nice IRA man tells him to.

While we're on the subject of Gere: why? I suppose it's only a matter of time before Hollywood remakes Gandhi with Vin Diesel playing ex-Mujahideen Commando Mahatma Gandhi beheading his way through 1940s and 50s India (he is, after all, a bit dark of hue and therefore very likely to be a Muslim fundamentalist). Let's not forget that Gere's character is a killer and therefore a nasty piece of work. And if he's not, why does he know The Jackal? If he's not, why does he know all his moves? And if he is, why is he such a limp biscuit and such a "loveable" person?

All this goes to show that the makers of this film couldn't be bothered to (a) think about the plot (b) have the characters making decisions that were in keeping with their character(c) avoid cheesy stereotypes like having the big boss bad guy kill his own friend – I honestly thought this had turned into a Bond movie (d) give the "central" characters something to do (e) credit the audience with a modicum of intelligence.

This film is an insult to the British and Irish killed at the hands of terrorists, it's an insult to the Irish people, it's an insult to not great, but pretty good film it rips off, and an insult to the intelligence. But most of all – and most unforgivable – it is an insult to my a*rse for having to sit through the over two hours of run time it took to finish. Honestly, you'd think with no plot, no characters and no dialogue, it would be over in no time. But they didn't even have the decency to quit early.
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Unintended parody
drifkind28 June 2003
I entered the theater with fond memories of Fred Zinnemann's 1973 "Day of the Jackal", expecting a chance to scoff at a butchered remake of a fine, suspenseful and tensely-paced film. After the first half-hour or so, it suddenly occurred to me that what I was seeing was not a remake at all, but a parody. Then I began to enjoy myself.

Watching to see what modern filmmaking sensibilities had made of the more memorable scenes from the original kept me thoroughly entertained for the rest of the show. Edward Fox's neat little sniper's rifle--with its disguise constructed from a marvelous, high-tech material called "stainless steel"--metamorphosed into an immense carbon-fiber contraption suitable for demolishing an armored battalion. Fox's deadly silent assassination of a cantaloupe turned into a market-garden recreation of the Battle of the Bulge. And so on.

I don't think my companion, or anyone else in the theater, appreciated my snickers and occasional belly laugh. Too bad. I had a great time.
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Fast paced crime
spamobile11 July 2011
Not sure why this movie seems so low rated, it's well worth a view ! It's fast paced with a number of strong actors and characters portrait very well by them. Maybe the story is not entirely believable, it seems that some leads are obtained a bit too easy, but does that matter? It's just great, action packed, clever, and if you like crime it should keep you on the edge of your chair. No, it's not like the original but I don't think the makers set out to do this. It would have been a crime to do that actually as the original is in it's own an excellent movie and remakes are most of the time disappointing. Go watch it, buy the DVD!
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A mixed bag of good and weak points.
Alex-Tsander2 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
As a re-make of "The Day of The Jackal" this movie succeeds in updating the setting without completely destroying the character. As so many re-makes tend to do. Here we find the historical and geo-political context totally changed but there is successfully conveyed the sense of an urgent hunt for one dangerous, faceless force of doom.

The technical aspects are among the best features. The cannon is for me the true star of the movie. Willis's multiple identities make for the other star feature. Also his portrayal of the psychopath's obsessional attention to detail and determination to make his lethal "toy" fulfil it's dreadful promise. Check out that look in his eyes in the climactic park scene as he wiggles his "joy" stick.

These things allowed, there is one blundering and grossly offensive feature. Gere's character could have been any terrorist from an imaginary outfit or assassin or foreign agent, who happened to know about the "Jackal". Why make him a "hero" out of the IRA? This is yet another manifestation of Hollywood's liberal mind-set dabbling in things of which they have not the glimmering of an understanding. As a UK citizen I have seen plenty of IRA and UDA thugs dragged out into the daylight. Fat tattooed men with twisted faces, scruffy facial hair and mullet hair-cuts. There never was one who could by the remotest stretch of the imagination be likened to a suave sex-bomb like Richard Gere. When one of the FBI agents suggests that his "war" took the lives of women and children rather than "British" soldiers he declares that he never got involved in such things. That is a statement every bit as ridiculous as if it were uttered by one of Osama Bin Laden's lieutenants! Can you imagine Richard Gere at a meeting planning the Manchester city centre bombing, saying to his "colleagues" "Aw, I'm sorry, I 'll have to sit it out on this one, chaps, this isn't my way of fighting a war." And, incidentally, Ulster has been a constitutional part of the British Isles for five hundred years ( twice as long as the U.S.A has existed ). Please note, Hollywood, the Northern Irish ARE British. Moreover, the use of the expression "British" to refer to the English ( which would have been what he meant ) is a uniquely American error.

There are also numerous "howlers" in the story. For example, if destroying the plans is so important to the assassin, why does he go off and leave them laying about to be discovered? When the gangster falls dead in the car-park, what happens to the body? Where did Gere's pistol come from in the final scenes? Why did the Jackal wait for the FBI to arrive before opening fire on the intended victim? Why, when they knew who it was and that he was there, did they not simply postpone the opening? Why were there no police or security arriving in the Metro station ( apart from the one killed )?

These things aside, a good set of cliff-hangers and one excellent and novel twist, a play on our assumptions, at the end.
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Bruce Willis got a big … Gun!
t_atzmueller26 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
It took a friend a lot of convincing to make me see "The Jackal". After all, the original "Day of the Jackal" remains one of my all-time favorites and since I'm not particularly fond of remakes, I gave this film a skip for many years. However, there come those days of 'nothing else on TV, so what the hell' and must admit, the remake isn't half-bad.

Edward Fox is one of my favorite on screen-assassins, having played his role so convincing, that it was frightening. His passionless killing-machine made him look less human than Arnies Terminator and, seeing the "Day of the Jackal" as a kid, the thought that people like this could actually exist, gave me the creeps. Other than his strange stage-crooner-persona of 'Bruno', Bruce Willis' Jackal may well be the most unusual Willis you've seen to date. Let's speak honest: Bruce is a character whom everybody likes to watch on screen – but a thespian with a great repertoire he's not. Willis seems to try and 'out-Herod' Edward Foxes psychopath from the original – and does a remarkable job. At times his performance is eerie, indeed having the evil glare of a jackal.

It's a nice nod to the original (where it is not only left open whether the Jackal was hetero-, homo-, bi-sexual or something completely different) that there are hints that Willis' Jackal may actually be gay. This is not meant to sound demeaning but a gay Bruce Willis is like, let me think, a straight Bruno (the Sasha Baron Cohen Bruno, not Willis' alter-ego). While Edward Fox slept with victims of both sexes, Willis is only once seen seducing a future victim, in this case a male politician. But more so, during the few moments where we see the supposed real personality (if something like this exists) of the Jackal, there's something distinctly feminine about the character. One example would be when he kills Major Koslova, the other, more poignant, when he receives the call that the contract is off while taking a bath and sipping on Rose wine (also a remarkable scene because Willis manages to do all the acting with his eyes alone).

To speak of the 'supporting' roles (because a film with Bruce Willis, other than "Pulp Fiction" only has one real star): all fine as you'd expect from veterans like Richard Gere (despite the cringe-worthy accent), Sidney Poitier (sadly, one of his last few screen-appearances), JK Simmons, Tess Harper or Jack Black (according to rumors, the audience was cheering him being shot to bits, with people remarking "wish this would happen in every film he's in").

Of course the movie has weaknesses and plot-holes that are bigger than that Freudian nightmare which is the Jackals gun. For the life of me I still don't understand how the ex-terrorist Isabella Zanconia could have aided with the capture of the Jackal. But so what? In the end, this is a "boy's movie": boys who like big guns and dramatic action-scenes involving helicopters, car-chases and big guns. Boys who like loud, snappy techno-soundtracks accompanying Bruce Willis firing big guns. Boys who like to watch Jack Black being obliterated by a big gun. In short, boys like you and me – and despite still not being very fond of remakes, I can honestly say that I liked "The Jackal". "Doesn't have to be caviar all the time", goes a saying – sometimes a burger from greasy McDs will do, just as there are times for a no-brainer like "The Jackal".

7 generous points out of 10, because giving points doesn't cost money.
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The Good & The Bad Of 'The Jackal'
ccthemovieman-110 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A almost-typical modern-day crime film in which a hired killer goes after a political figure and the FBI tries to stop him.

THE BAD - There is a shootout scene at the harbor where nobody was shot despite three professional killers all doing the shooting. Then there is the classic Hollywood hesitation by the killer at the end, thus enabling the potential victim to be spared. That same killer ("The Jackal," played by Bruce Willis) would also have killed the FBI man (Richard Gere) without hesitation at the end. And, how Gere knew Willis was in the subway is never explained. There are other credibility holes, too, in here: too many.

THE GOOD - The cast of Willis, Gere, Sidney Poitier and Diane Venora is first- class. All of them play interesting and likable characters - even the villain! Gere did a credible job with an Irish accent and Venora the same, playing a Russian. It was fun watch Willis with his various disguises. The story keeps your interest all the way. It does it right by not having too much action, but shocking and memorable when it does occur. If you have good speakers there is some great sound in the last 20 minutes. A good movie if you like suspense.

OVERALL - Definitely worth a look...or two.
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The Chuckle
Gary-16126 August 2000
Warning: Spoilers

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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Did They Have To Call It THE JACKAL ?
Theo Robertson29 July 2003
The fundamental problem with remakes is that you find yourself comparing the remake with the original . When watching THE JACKAL I found myself comparing American and European films . The original DAY OF THE JACKAL was a very European movie filmed entirely in Europe with a mainly European cast and crew with a very understated performance from Edward Fox as a very English assassin . It was a film that was both intelligent and compelling . The remake on the other hand - Despite having a Scottish director - is a very American film : Loud , vulgar , not very clever , with box office consideration over riding creative and artistic factors . You want a determined and ruthless assassin ? How about Jean Reno ? Ah but you can`t do that because the studio want a big name American actor like Bruce Willis in the title role , a role where his character has to don several disguises none of which make him look like anything more than Bruce Willis in a disguise ( A bit like Val Kilmer in THE SAINT where no matter how much the hero disguises himself he always looks like Val Kilmer ) And being an American film who better to play an IRA man than that well known wee , short , fat , middle aged Irish actor Richard Gere whose " oirish " accent is less convincing than the Jackal`s disguises . Once again this is the fault of the studio who are dying to cast a big name no matter how unsuitable they are for the role and once again I`m disgusted to see an IRA character as a good guy . Note to American film producers : By the 1990s most Irish Americans recognised the provisional IRA for what they are - Murdering scum . In fact one of the main reasons the IRA wanted to reach a settlement was because they`d lost all political and financial support from the Irish American lobby . The IRA had few friends over there then and have no friends over there now so stop making films with IRA characters hoping you`ll have a guaranteed hit in Boston and New York , it`s patronising to Irish Americans and offensive to us Brits

I do concede THE JACKAL is entertaining in parts and I did like the bizarre title sequence featuring a montage of 20th century Russian history set against a techno soundtrack , but it`s a very inferior film compared to the original . In fact I can`t help thinking the producers shot themselves in the foot by describing this as " A remake " because there`s very little common ground between the two except for the assassin plot . If you changed the name of The Jackal character to something else there`s very little chance Frederick Forsyth or anyone else would have sued for plagerism . As it is watching this Americanised version I found myself saying out loud " The original was better . The original was better . The original ... "
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Of course he's going after the first lady!
13927 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Amidst all the many problems that make this a dire piece of celluloid is the stupidest plot device in recent cinema history. Richard Gere determines who the Jackal's real target is through some form of revelation. He does not work anything out, it just comes to him. When in doubt "He's going after the First Lady!". This film blows chunks.
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I recommend that you see The Day of the Jackal and compare both movies
Soledad-24 March 1999
Comparing this movie with the original film, The Day of the Jackal (1973), from which this was adapted, I would say this new version is just okay. The original film is simply extraordinary and if you haven't seen it, I sincerely recommend that you do it today and compare by yourself.
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The 1973 "Day of the Jackal", directed b...
Mitch-46 September 1998
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-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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Solid, But Generic Thriller!
g-bodyl5 May 2012
The Jackal is based of the 1973 film, The Day of the Jackal. This 1997 version is a different story than the 1973 version. It is more of a generic story with the feeling "been there, done that." However, it is still a good movie with action, great acting, and some unexpected moments.

This is about how FBI deputy director gets a terrorist, Mulqueen out of prison to help him track down a shady assassin, known as the Jackal, before he assassinates his political targets.

The acting is great. Bruce Willis and Richard Gere had great chemistry. Willis was the reason why I saw this movie. I was surprised to see Sidney Poitier here but he did a great job as usual.

Overall, this is a solid film that is there for enjoyment, not for awards or major critical success. Even though I seen many of these kind of films, I liked it. I rate this film 8/10.
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Tension,action packed and man hunt in this thriller with good playing by the main cast
ma-cortes29 November 2006
The picture deals the known history about Jackal.Bruce Willis stars as an ice cold series killer,he's employed by the Russian Mafia wants avenge for a FBI intervention in its issues and his target is allegedly killing FBI's chief. Jackal is an unknown man and he's solely known by a convict terrorist from IRA named Declan(Richard Gere).He's given a bargain by an experienced FBI official(Sidney Poitier)and his group(Diane Venora,J.K.Simmons) and the chase,the manhunt, is on to find the vicious killer escaped with ominous purports.They team up to catch the biggest world hired murderer.Declan contacts with an ex-ETA terrorist(Mathilda May)who had a deep relationship with Jackal.Meanwhile the unemotional murderer is preparing the hired assassination and buys technological weapon to an arms-crafter(Jack Black)what are experimented in alive(in similar scenes from the first version with Cryl Cusak).

The picture contains lots of action,suspenseful,past paced thriller,intrigue,tension but at times it seems too similar to another action films.Agreeable chemistry between Richard Gere and Sidney Poitier along with excellent action sequences like as the breathtaking final game in the subway are someone of the worthwhile items in this rehash from the classical Day of Jackal.Willis,Gere and Poitier,the trio protagonist, make a solid portrayal of their characters backed by a splendid secondary casting. The film is based in Frederick Forsyth's best selling novel of political intrigue previously adapted successful by Fred Zinnemann with Edward Fox.However here is quite different,but the target is political ,the general Charles de Gaulle by the OAS(terrorist organization anti-independence Algeria),while in this film is apparently the FBI's director. Colorful cinematography with beautiful locations by Karl Walter Lindenlaub and enjoyable music by Carter Burwell .The motion picture is regularly directed by Michael Caton Jones.
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jimjam20-221 January 2002
Solid thriller, with a good effort from Bruce Willis as the icy assasin. Has some good suspense & a terrific effort from Sydney Portier in support (I prolly just misspelled his name) Richard Gere as the hero leaves something to be desired though. Watch for a small role from Jack Black as well. All in all, worth a look.
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Shame On ALL Involved!
tillzen16 January 2008
It is hard to screw up this story. GREAT book / GOOD Film version from Fred Zinneman, yet this film is AWFUL! First the casting was terrible. Richard Gere should of played the Jackal himself as Edward Fox was a similar type of cypher and they didn't need to mess with the original script by adding so much worthless (expensive) fluff. This film reminded me of so many Bruce Willis films, as you see huge expense with NOTHING cinematic to show for it. (It is his "Conspiracy Theory") It takes some real doing to make a film this bad from such a fine original script. EVERY person from Michael Caton Jones down should be banned from making films for 10 years; such is the insult this film is to real filmmakers. Were Hollywood to go on trial for having no idea what they were doing, this film would be Exhibit A. Shame on you ALL!
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This is not a remake
boatista249 September 2011
I think people here expect to see a remake of The Day of the Jackal. This movie has nothing to do with The Day of the Jackal. This is an independent fictitious tale based upon Carlos the Jackal. It is one of my favorite Bruce Willis flicks, and has one of the greatest movie scores of all time. As far as entertainment by Bruce Willis goes, this is an 8 out of 10, hands down. Get over this being a lousy remake of an entirely different movie, and appreciate it for what it is. An outstanding effort - $60 million worth. In my opinion, Bruce Willis is as good as a bad guy as he was in any of his good guy roles. I would not dismiss this movie until you see how great he was in it. A terrific cast and great story line make this a must see.
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Perversely fascinating.... could make a good drinking game.
escoles28 May 2000
This is an awful, awful movie -- made even more so by being a remake of one of the finest thrillers ever made, _Day of the Jackal_. Where to begin? The whole thing is such a dead loss: the performances (by hollywood heavyweights versus the original's international cast of skilled professional actors), the plot (silly sensationalistic pandering versus the very real political context of the alleged plot to kill deGaulle), the gimmickry (Willis's Jackal relies on theatrical disguise instead of the more subtle and proven approaches taken by Fox's), the gadgets (so, tell me again why he needs to use a Vulcan Cannon when a simple one-shot rifle was enough in the original?).

It's really saying something that the high point is the low-key romantic involvement between Venora's hard-bitten Russian cop and Poitier's sly FBI man. It's like something from a Nick Fury comic, but oddly enough it's as close to anything like reality that this movie comes.

Don't rent this unless you're looking to fill the docket at a bad movie party. It's probably pretty good for that, full of pretty posturing by Geer (ouch! where'd he get his accent coach?!) & Willis, and improbably plot elements a-plenty.
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Fantastic! Criticism is unwarranted.
eberon26 January 2002
All of the criticism regarding this movie is, for the most part, entirely unwarranted. This is an excellent film, hands down, with an amazing cast. People will always whine about how poor the accents in movies are, but it's all about suspension of disbelief. If you want to see realistic movies, well, you're going at it the wrong way by going to see an action-thriller.

This is hands down the best action-thriller movie I've seen since The Rock. Willis plays the Jackal excellently and the script is amazing. Despite what some people say about this being "a poor remake", they are mistaken; this is NOT a remake. This is an entirely different film, which anyone who has half of a brain would realize. The two movies may be based upon the same novel, but both of them are fundamentally different. Don't discount this one -- give it a try. It has been my favorite movie since '97 when I saw it in the theater.
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