videocam The Jackal (1997)

reviewed by Nick Burton

Published in Issue No. 13 ~ June, 1998

There is a scene in Fred Zinneman’s 1973 film of Frederick Forthsythe’s novel The Day Of The Jackal where the Jackal (played by Edward Fox), a cold blooded killer with an almost existential sense of purpose who was been hired by the O.A.S. to kill Charles DeGallue, takes target practice by firing a hand made rifle loaded with explosive bullets at a hanging watermelon. In the astonishingly bad remake, titled simply The Jackal (Universal), Bruce Willis fires a laptop computer controlled portable cannon that immediately fells a tree. Such is the “bigger is better” attitude of director Michael Caton-Jones and screenwriter Chuck Pfarrer, who have shifted the story to concern a Russian plot to kill the director of the F.B.I. They’ve also introduced a new character played by Richard Gere, a jailed I.R.A. terrorist who is the only man who can identify the Jackal. It’s a big, loud, empty-headed movie that tries to take a high-tech, media savvy tack ( the gunsmith played by Cyril Cusak in the original is a Macintosh computer here, and Gere figures Willis’ last move by watching Larry King), and the cool, icily pragmatic Jackal of the original ends up as a psycho with a gun. Gere is smirky as the I.R.A. man seeking redemption and Willis seems to have fun in his different disguises ( beards, wigs, fat suits, etc.), but the film is finally a wretched mess that, fortunately, Forsythe had the good sense to remove his name from.

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Nick Burton lives in Newport Beach, California. His fiction has appeared in many small press and web publications, inlcuding: Chronicles Of Fiction, Pauper, and of course Pif.