Volume 91, Issue 45

Wednesday, November 19, 1997



Willis fails big screen test

By Dan Yurman
Gazette Staff

This Gazette Arts and Entertainment exam covering The Jackal will last 10 minutes. Please circle the correct answer with an HB pencil and do not look at anyone else's paper. This exam is worth 100 per cent of your grade – and remember, the correct answer is always "C." Good luck.

(1) The Jackal is: [A] a feeble attempt at a mixed drink [B] a feeble attempt at a nickname for a lousy professor [C] a feeble attempt at a suspenseful action film.

(2) The majority of The Jackal is an: [A] obvious rip-off of "Jive Talking" by the Bee Gees [B] obvious rip-off of this year's Biz 257 midterm [C] obvious rip-off of every other suspense action film made in the last five years.

(3) Richard Gere, for his performance in this film, deserves: [A] a Grammy [B] a Tony [C] a Gerbil (de-clawed, of course) and a pink slip.

(4) The plot of The Jackal was like: [A] pulling mussels from a shell [B] 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife [C] trying to follow an unlabelledd road map.

(5) The Jackal is worth seeing: [A] at full price [B] at half price [C] never.

(6) The Jackal should go: [A] directly to video [B] directly to jail without passing go [C] directly to hell.

While this exam was a tad harsh, The Jackal did not deserve much better. It was probably one of the most disappointing films of the year, lacking focus and interesting characters.

The plot focuses on the Jackal, a killer-for-hire, played by Bruce Willis. He is hired by the Russian Mafia to assassinate a high-powered American government official and the only one who can stop him is I.R.A. hitman Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere, sporting a pitiful excuse for an Irish accent) who is unfortunately serving a life sentence in an American prison. The F.B.I., shown in this film to be as incompetent as ever, has no choice but to get Mulqueen out of jail and use his expertise and knowledge of the Jackal in order to track him down. As the film drudges along, Mulqueen predictably predicts every move the Jackal makes, which eventually leads him to the scene of the assassination – the only part of the film with any suspense.

From the plot, anyone could speculate The Jackal would be an excellent movie, but it falters in so many ways that the end result is quite sub-par. First, the film takes far too long in setting up the eventual showdown. It follows Willis' character all over the map and shows him in no less than 10 disguises. This, again, is a good idea, but none of the situations he is put in are at all interesting; so all that is left is an hour and a half of boredom. If the filmmakers had cut 30-45 minutes out of the final product, it would have been infinitely better.

Another problem was the bombardment of characters who served no purpose. This was especially seen in the character of the F.B.I deputy director, played by Sidney Poitier, who had enough screen time to qualify as a starring role, but none of it was, in any way, helpful to plot development.

It is unfortunate The Jackal turned out the way it did because the idea was good. If the filmmakers had followed in the footsteps of films such as The Rock (1996) and The Assignment (1997), they would have known how to keep a script like focused. They obviously did not do their homework and as a result, they fail. In fact, they fail quite miserably.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997