‘The Jackal‘ is an action-thriller directed by Michael Caton-Jones based on a screenplay by Chuck Pfarrer. It was released in 1997 by Universal Pictures and is based on a novel by Kenneth Ross.
After the FBI works with the Russian MVD to take down a gangster, some surviving members hire the deadly assassin The Jackal (Bruce Willis) to kill an unknown target in the United States. MVD Major Valentina Koslova (Diane Venora) gets the intel and brings it to the attention of FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston (Sidney Poitier). They decide to get a former associate of the Jackal and imprisoned IRA sniper Declan Joseph Mulqueen (Richard Gere), who agrees to help since the Jackal wounded his girlfriend Isabella Celia Zancona (Mathilda May) years prior. As they search for the Jackal, he manages to stay one step ahead of them, connecting with government officials to accomplish his goal and kill his target.
Contemporaneous critics at the time felt very negatively toward this film. Words like “bland” and “flat were used to describe it. The audience disagreed and it was a huge box-office success, earning over twice its budget. This time, I am definitely on the side of the audience.
While it is true that it sort of repeats tropes of various action-thrillers, I do not think it treads into being boring. The plot is solid and has many twists and turns to keep you invested in watching all of the players go through the movie. You are enthralled and definitely feel close to the pulse-pounding tension.
I have to praise all of the principal performers. Gere’s accent was not impressive, but he delivered a good performance. Of course, Poitier was at the top of his game with how he portrayed his character. Willis usually plays tough good guys, so seeing him portray sort of this narcissistic assassin was excellent and I enjoyed his performance. To me, the stand-out was Venora who I thought did beautifully in the role of the Major. She is such an underrated talent and I think she should be given more roles.
Bottom line, The Jackal is a tense, pulse-pounding flick that delivers on all of the action and thrills. I think that you will enjoy it and find it perfect for a movie night.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Inappropriate humor, Strong Violence including some gore
FAVORITE QUOTE: Ooh, that’s bad. The blood’s almost black, that means the bullet’s in your liver. You have about 20 minutes to live. If the pain gets to be too much, you can take your hand away. Then you’ll be dead in 5 minutes.
Check out the trailer below:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.