STUDIO: Warner Brothers
MSRP: $24.98 RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 103 Minutes
• Project history
• The Look of The Jacket: special effects featurette
• Deleted scenes

Every few years Hollywood dusts off a movie like The Jacket (not to be confused with The Tuxedo). It is a direct descendant of movies like Altered States, Jacob’s Ladder (not to be confused with the Huey Lewis song) and (more recently) The Butterfly Effect. It is stylized, and confusing, and hinges more on freaky head trips than actual substance.

I’m not saying it is devoid of substance. But the plot really takes a bask seat to the freaky nature of the movie and the head trips that the main character goes through.

This still comes just before the money shot in the new Paris Hilton sex tape: One Night in Paris, Texas.

The Flick

The Jacket is an altered-state movie. The main character, Jack Starks (Adrian Brody) is an injured Gulf War vet (he was shot in the head). Back home he is wandering a highway hitchhiking (not unlike John Rambo in the beginning of First Blood). He helps a mother and daughter fix their car (they turn away from giving him a lift) and his hitching efforts are eventually rewarded when someone (not C. Thomas Howell) stops to pick him up.

To this point the movie is played pretty straight. There are a few MTV-esque fast cuts and edits, but nothing too bad. Director John Maybury is setting the stage here. Giving us a little plot and a little style. Unfortunately, as the movie goes on, he ends up giving us too much style and too little plot.

Psychological effects of The Phantom Menace still haunt many people.

The main plot rounds out with Jack all of a sudden on trial for killing a police officer. The guy who gave Jack a lift was pulled over (with Jack in the car) and shot the officer. Jack conveniently can’t remember (his memory is bad given the bullet to the brain) anything about the driver, or if the driver even existed. He’s found guilty and the judge sentences him to the crazy ward under the care of Kris Kristofferson (who is only a smidge less crazy that Gary Busey).

It seems Kristofferson’s character has an edgy treatment he wants to try with Starks. So, the Doctor puts Stark in a straight jacket, injects him with some drug and then throws the patient into a morgue draw.

In Hollywood a good smile can mean a big boost to your career. Just ask Tom Cruise or Ewan McGregor. Unfortunately Adrien Brody will have to rely on his acting skills alone.

That’s where we start getting freaky. Inside the draw Starks goes a little crazy (naturally). Maybury begins to overuse the “style” he is creating. There are a lot of quick cuts, dark scenes with random flashes of light and quick camera movements. The plot then goes out the window. Ya see, while inside the Jacket, Starks goes forward in time. Yea. He doesn’t even hit 88 miles per hour.

I can suspend disbelief a little. If Starks was imagining the future, I’d be down with it. Even if he gleamed knowledge from the future and used it in the present. I’m cool with that. But physically traveling into the future because he was trapped in a box? Hell, at least Aston had to think about what he was doing in The Butterfly Effect. Starks goes in the drawer, starts screaming and then is magically walking around in 2007.

Single White Female indeed.

The plot doesn’t go anywhere from there. A silly murder plot (ala DOA) is throw in as some substance. Mostly Maybury just uses an overabundance of “style” to set the tone and flow. If it weren’t for Brody who does an amazing job as Starks, this movie would be pretty bad.

Adrien Brody attacks the character of Starks. The audience has to believe that Starks is completely sane. However, there has to be a few moments of doubt – after all, Starks was committed to a mental institution.

Playing a character that is sane and possibly insane can be a hard line to walk. Playing a convincible insane character is hard enough, to compound it so the characters in the movie think your character is insane while the audience thinks you are sane… that’s something.

Suddenly Doctor Reid realized life wasn’t as bad as he thought. Yes, his wife left him for screwing a dead patient. But, at least he wasn’t that chick’s sweater.

On the flip side of good acting is bad acting. Keira Knightley gets that award here. Overall she isn’t that bad but her accent is. It is HORRIBLE. The film takes place in the US – so Knightley does her best Yankee bloke. The result isn’t pretty. Try and picture the sound of a drunk and drugged Paris Hilton imitating James Earl Jones.

The sound she makes is pretty distracting. I cringed every time she was on screen. I didn’t want her to talk. I’m all for her broadening her horizons, but perhaps she should stick to movies where she can leave her accent intact.

Maybe she can team up with another “master of the accent” Kevin Costner and the director of Saw (another over edited, “stylized” movie) in Jacob’s Ladder to Alerted States Effect.

6.5 out of 10

“I don’t care. You’re my agent so do it. I want to star in a one-man production of Steel Magnolias. Make it happen."

The Look

The movie is all about style. If the quick cutting, MTV style of filmmaking is your particular brand of LSD, then it looks great. If you saw Saw and said “That’s it! No more of this ‘stylized’ crap,” then you’ll be disappointed.

Ultimately this movie looks fine. There is nothing in it that will set it apart from any other generic thriller you’ve seen recently.

5 out of 10

The look : Channeling the acting prowess of Keanu. The line of dialogue: Whoa.

The Noise

You can hear Knightley butcher the New England accent in 5.1. What more can you ask for?

5 out of 10

The Goodies

Generic stuff. Studios realize they need to put something on DVDs for viewers, but do they need to put the same stuff on over and over? The generic “special effects” feature and project history are included as are some deleted scenes (which were wisely trimmed).

How about some mad scientist talking about time travel? Or an old Houdini routine with him escaping a straight jacket? Impress me with quantity or quality. I don’t care which. But a generic featurette and deleted scenes? At least romance me a little!

3.75 out of 10

Fans at early screenings of The Fantastic Four turned away from the screen with such violent force that they had to be treated for whiplash.

The Artwork

I really like the artwork. Like the movie it is slightly disturbing and gives you a feel for the style of film waiting for you. Plus it places more emphasis on imagery than on the stars. Anytime that happens you have to be impressed.

8 out of 10

Overall: 5.65 out of 10