The Jackal

Bruce Willis plays the Jackal, the killer hired for $70 million (about the cost of this botched thriller) to assassinate a government bigwig – hint, the target is considered more influential than Bill. The Jackal is a master of disguise, which is pretty funny since Willis in wigs, fake noses and facial hair of assorted colors looks always like Willis. This makes the FBI honcho (Sidney Poitier) and Russian officer (Diane Venora) on his trail appear dim. You want to shout, "He's the one who looks like Bruce Willis!"

Director Michael Caton-Jones (Rob Roy) overcompensates by upping the violence on a movie that its makers insist is not a remake of the 1973 Fred Zinnemann film The Day of the Jackal. I agree. That Jackal, based on Frederick Forsyth's novel about a plot to kill Charles de Gaulle, delivered decent suspense. It didn't deliver an absurd hero to take on the Jackal in the person of a Belfast sharpshooter, played by Richard Gere with an accent that apes the pinto-Guinness blarney Brad Pitt pulled in The Devil's Own. It didn't deliver a tasteless scene in which the Jackal, now bottle blond like Pitt in Seven Years in Tibet, picks up a gay D.C. wonk (Stephen Spinella) and plants a wet one on him before he wastes him. Nothing like unrelieved gore and gay-bashing to separate trash from class.

From The Archives Issue 775: December 11, 1997