Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Jackal (1997) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Big stars don't guarantee anything. Remember The Devil's Own? An updated remake of Frederick Forsyth's best-seller, with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere sounds seductively bankable. Edward Fox, for all his icy shmooze value, is no match in the role of international hitman. An English ex-public school weapons expert, hired to bump off General de Gaulle, pales in comparison with a closet gay master of disguise, who carries around a gun the size of a tank barrel.
Willis is contacted by an exiled Russian Mafia boss (David Heyman) to kill an American VIP in revenge for his brother's death at a botched FBI sting in Moscow. Bruce asks for some absurd fee, like $28 million, and gets it. Meanwhile US intelligence twig to the fact that The Jackal (Willis's nom-de-guerre) is on the prowl and heading Stateside.
Sidney Poitier, looking good for a guy who must be collecting his pension, is head of the intelligence team. He does a deal with Richard Gere, playing yet another sympathetic IRA terrorist (when will Hollywood wake up to Ulster's murderous legacy?), incarcerated in an American jail. In the past he came in contact with The Jackal and might have an insight into the way his mind works. In order to join Poitier's cracked corp of undercover agents, he is temporarily released and allowed to practice his dodgy accent at top level meetings.
Bruce is always one step ahead, which keeps tension levels low. He travels light, except for The Gun that needs a crate and an invisible team of make-up artists who apply quick change disguises off screen. Gere's value is debatable. His suggestions are either too late, or fluky guesswork.
Willis has a fun time. His snog in the gay bar with a simpering White House civil servant is almost worth the price of the ticket (only kidding!). Otherwise he swans about doing what he wants, while Dick and Sid keep losing the place. When assassination time comes, you don't care whether he hits or misses. As long as it's over quickly.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001