Favorite

Morgue Mystery 

Adrien Brody goes time traveling, maybe, in the uninspired 'The Jacket'

Films like Donnie Darko and The Butterfly Effect are still nestled in our collective consciousness, and now comes The Jacket, yet another stab at a unique time-travel story. This one places Adrien Brody as an unfortunate sort who suffers a lot of head traumas and gets his sorry ass stuck in a morgue drawer wearing a straightjacket. The result of his meds and isolation may or may not result in time travel, during which he gets to go into the future and have sex with Keira Knightley. That's as good a reason for time travel that I can think of.

Brody is Jack Stark, a Gulf War veteran who takes a bullet in the head at the beginning of the movie. His narrating voice tells us that this marked the first time he died, which doesn't make much sense, because he doesn't die; he survives. He gets back to decent physical shape but winds up with amnesia, the first sign that screenwriter Massy Tadjedin's script might be a little trite.

A mishap involving a grown-up Brad Renfro (Brad is back!) gets Stark a stay at an insane asylum where the crazy Doctor Becker (Kris "The Growler" Kristofferson) has a very strange concept of what's good for his patients. He shoots them full of mystery drugs, straps them into straightjackets and leaves them to scream in a morgue drawer. This is to create a "womb-like" environment, a conflicted idea considering most of us could move around, had a food source and even listened to tunes via a speaker on the mommy tummy while in the womb.

While in the drawer, Jack travels ahead in time, where he meets Jackie (Knightley) who has a mystery identity that I won't give away here. Jack takes numerous trips into the morgue drawer; thus, he takes numerous trips into the future, where romance blossoms with Jackie.

Is the romance with Jackie just a figment of his overactive imagination, a side effect of drugs and isolation? Is he really taking a physical trip into the future? The screenplay throws in a bunch of coincidences that suggest Jack really is traveling, but it leaves things nice and ambiguous, perhaps hoping that a cult following will sit in coffee shops and come up with their own conclusions a lá Donnie Darko.

My guess is that director John Maybury's work here, while promising in spots, is not meaningful enough to have viewers take much away from the theaters. I've mentioned other time-travel movies, but the film The Jacket seems to rip the most from is Jacob's Ladder, that extremely creepy Tim Robbins film in which a soldier basically played a movie in his head as he laid dead on the battlefield.

Brody does a decent job looking disturbed and uncomfortable, something he showed a knack for with his Oscar-winning role in The Pianist. He hasn't gotten good roles since then--a small part in The Singing Detective, and his embarrassing turn in The Village. Peter Jackson has cast him in his upcoming remake of King Kong, so perhaps Brody will get a chance to breathe a bit and have some fun with that blockbuster.

Knightley is a bit overwrought at times, but that seems to be more a byproduct of the script and direction rather than her talents. She fashions a rather impressive American accent, and does a decent job looking and sounding drunk.

The movie, despite its complete lack of originality, actually works OK for much of its running time. By trying to tie up the film with a neat little bow in the final act, complete with a happy ending, Maybury and team basically chicken out. This ain't no Donnie Darko.

The Jacket
Rated NR

More by Bob Grimm

  • Deja Voodoo

    Happy Death Day is a decent enough, kinda scary mash-up of Groundhog Day and Scream
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • Runner's High

    This sequel is a gorgeous trip back to the future
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Flights of Fancy

    The life of pilot Barry Seal seems hard to believe in American Made
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Pop Hit

    The Lonely Island crew delivers a music mocumentary that belongs at the top of the charts
    • Jun 9, 2016
  • Wave Not

    The Wave is better than some disaster flicks out there, but the best thing about it could be the Norwegian scenery
    • Mar 3, 2016

The Range

TSO Presents 007-themed Show Next Weekend

Laughing Stock: Odd as Ever; Ever Laughable

The Weekly List: 24 Things To Do In Tucson This Week

More »

Latest in Cinema Feature

  • Reel Indie

    Another week of indie films is upon us, and Film Fest Tucson is taking center stage in its four-day run.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • Deja Voodoo

    Happy Death Day is a decent enough, kinda scary mash-up of Groundhog Day and Scream
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Fun and (Spy) Games

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle brings the franchise to America for more over-the-top espionage hijinks
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation