Rated R - Running time: 2:02 - Released 11/14/97

Modern-day action/adventure films share a common problem. In order to be exciting enough to hold the audience's interest, they have to be incredible. And this film is exactly that: not credible. Don't get me wrong; it's very exciting. There's a lot of action, a relatively intriguing plot, and adequate acting, although acting is not really needed for this type of feature. But the script is so full of unlikely events, you have to be really devoted to your love for gunfire and special effects to swallow it.

In director Michael Caton-Jones's loosely based remake of Fred Zinnemann's The Day of the Jackal (1973), the classic theme of using a criminal to catch a criminal is employed. Russian and American detectives, headed by Carter Preston (Sydney Poitier), make a deal with maximum security inmate Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere) to help them find a cunning killer-for-hire known only as The Jackal (Bruce Willis) before he assassinates someone very important. We don't know exactly who the intended victim is, but the Russian official who hired The Jackal has a vendetta and a reputation for "very public, very bloody" revenge. So while Willis's character is running around the globe collecting the weaponry he'll need to do the job, the detectives and Mulqueen, whom they don't trust very much, are running around the globe trying to intercept Mr. J. Of course, Mulqueen has an old score to settle with Jackal, so this is his reason for participating in the deal.

For a master-of-disguises known for his discretion, The Jackal certainly causes a lot of unnecessary commotion. When he is being tailed by the detectives, he nonchalantly pulls into a parking garage, and then does so much tire-squealing that no one could possibly mistake his whereabouts or that he's up to no good. When he is spotted by Mulqueen on a boat dock, rather than walking casually away, he opens fire — drawing attention from the other detectives as well as many passers-by. He is continually shooting innocent people for no good reason. The film has other ridiculous plot developments, like the high-level detective (Diane Venora) who is shot and is allowed to die 20 minutes later, surrounded by cops, with no medical help. And the slightly retooled baseball-bat scene stolen shamelessly from The Untouchables.

Although there are some genuine thrills and some very cool music, this film is mainly run-of-the-mill action/adventure fare: lots of loud, meaningless violence with high-tech weapons. If you like that, live it up. **½

Copyright 1997 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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