is filmmaking by numbers: take two huge stars, Richard Gere and Bruce Willis, and pit them opposite each other in a plot that's already been audience tested. That director Michael Caton Jones' film is based not on Frederick Forsyth's novel
but on the script for the 1973 original starring James Fox is the first clue that something here is amiss. Fred Zinneman's The Day of the Jackal
was a genuinely taut and claustrophobic thriller; the remake is like a Rocky & Bullwinkle
take on international terrorism disguised as an action movie. Dashing IRA terrorist, Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere), is sprung from jail to help the FBI Deputy Director Carton Preston (Sidney Poitier) track down The Jackal, an amoral international terrorist who is a master of disguise. The FBI believes he is about to assassinate a US political bigwig and is engaged in a race against time to discover exactly who the target is and where they will be felled. Throughout the film Gere sports an Irish accent as ill-fitting and phoney as the bushy lip-wig that Willis adopts at one point as a disguise. The usually warm-hearted Willis plays the steel-jawed terrorist with a cool reserve, but he doesn't have much character development to work with (apart from a misguided attempt to introduce a gay subtext). At over two hours of running time with plenty of exposition and precious few action sequences, this film is a test of will for the audience as well as the protagonists.
On the DVD: The DVD includes a lengthy "making of" featurette, several deleted scenes and an alternate ending with some small dialogue changes. There is also an exceedingly dry director's commentary by Michael Caton Jones which muses on such mind-numbingly dull details as the colour of the subway platform in the film's climactic sequence. The film is presented in a clear print in 2.35:1 anamorphic format with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. --Chris Campion
The Jackal (Bruce Willis) is an assassin with a thousand faces, and his latest prey is a top US government official. In an attempt to prevent the killing, the FBI's Deputy Director (Sidney Poitier) sets a thief to catch a thief, releasing imprisoned underground operative Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere) to bring the Jackal to book.