It takes a really long time for director John Maybury to get to the meat of the story in "The Jacket," which makes one wonder if his role is to make a movie or ponder the nature of existence. For whatever meaningless reason, we're treated to a whole sequence involving Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) dying in the first Iraq War. This segues to him hitchhiking, being picked up, and then getting involved in a nasty bit of business involving the shooting of a police officer.
Starks is charged for the murder and sent away to a hospital for the criminally insane simply because he can't remember what happened. I have my doubts about the criminal justice system, but Maybury's handle on it (he's British, that's probably his excuse) is questionable at best. This is where the story starts and the needless back story fades out. Oh, Starks narrates some stupid stuff about "the first time I died," but it's simply a lot of crap that makes absolutely no sense at all.
Dr. Thomas Becker (Kris Kristofferson) puts Starks in a straight jacket and sticks him in a morgue freezer, kind of like a poor man's "Altered States." Jack first has visions of the past and then finds himself traveling into the future where he meets Jackie Price (Keira Knightley), the grown-up version of a young girl he met just before the shooting. She's just scraping by, but remembers Jack and some critical information.
Jack is aware of what's going on and this starts a series of time travel scenarios where Jack is trying to prevent certain events and inadvertently causing others in one of those plot lines that seems kind of cool until you actually start thinking about it. You know, if Jack actually did this then he couldn't have done such-and-such because it would have wiped out what he did before that. Part of the time travel element involves convincing another doctor (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that he's not crazy. He sees her in both time periods and she looks exactly the same, leading me to wonder if the filmmakers ran out of money for make-up.
I wish there was a way I could travel back in time and warn myself not to see this movie.
To spread the word about this The Jacket review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.