"The Jacket" is another twisty thriller along the lines of "The Machinist", "Memento" and the good (but little seen) "I Inside", with a twist of "The Butterfly Effect" thrown in for good measure. The picture, a stylish and mostly effective piece directed by John Mayburry, opens during the Iraq War in 1991. Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) is in a small village trying to help when a young boy attacks him, and he's thought to be dead until he starts waking up in the army hospital.
Not long after, he comes home in the middle of Winter, with some memories lost. After helping a seemingly crazed woman and her daughter with their broken-down car, he hitches a ride with someone who happened to be coming down the road. He ends up getting involved in a crime as a result of the ride, and then gets thrown into a mental hospital as a result, since the court considered him not guilty by reason of insanity.
The main doctor at the hospital treats him by the rather odd practice of drugging him, strapping him into the board and locking him up in a drawer. Somehow, at a point within the experiment, Jack finds himself sent years into the future, eventually meeting Jackie (Keira Knightley, with an accent so different I didn't even recognize her at first), the girl that he helped on the road all those years ago. While in the future, he finds out that he is supposed to die in the past, and when he returns, he only has a few days to find out a way to prevent it.
"The Jacket" is stylish, but rather slow - instead of handing out little bits of plot and info every so often, "The Jacket" mainly operates on mood and atmosphere. Although this works for a good solid while, after a while I began to lose a little bit of patience with the film, until it began to build in the last third. The performances aren't bad, although Brody isn't dynamic enough to always grab the interest. Knightley is fine, but the fact that she's not on-screen for large chunks takes away from what effort she does offer in her scenes. Jennifer Jason Leigh is fine in a supporting role that fills up a few scenes.
Overall, "The Jacket" is visually striking, occasionally quite eerie and definitely moody. However, there are definitely some rather large plot holes that begin to seep into the mind once the credits have rolled. The ending was also a bit unexpected, as the picture is "off" enough to get us primed for a reveal or twist finale, but it just keeps proceeding as if everything is business as usual. It's all not bad, and I suppose the way it wraps up is refreshing in theory, but it didn't bring it all together for me, at least in this case. Overall, it's not bad, although some reworking might have really brought it to another level.
VIDEO: "The Jacket" is presented by Warner Brothers in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation is quite good, aside from a few minor concerns. Sharpness and detail are mostly first-rate, aside from some minor instances of intentional softness. Dark scenes in the film - and there are quite a few - still offer very nice detail.
The presentation does present some very slight edge enhancement at times, but is otherwise crisp and clear. The print looked crystal clear, with no specks, marks or other faults. No pixelation or shimmering were noticed. The film's bleak color palette looked accurately rendered, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: "The Jacket" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. There are moments scattered throughout the movie where the surrounds provide rich layers of sound effects and ambience. On the other hand, "The Jacket" is often pretty dialogue-driven, so there are stretches where the audio is rooted in the front speakers. Audio quality was first-rate, as music, dialogue and effects seemed crisp and well-recorded. Some brief instances of low bass are present, but there's not much, overall.
EXTRAS: Two featurettes - one is a "Project History/Deleted Scenes" piece and the other is regarding the look of the film - are included. The trailer is also present.
Final Thoughts: I have a feeling that "The Jacket" is going to infuriate some audiences, while others will enjoy it. Personally, I found some things to appreciate, but the middle gets slow at times and after watching it, I'm a little less satisfied than I'd hoped to be. The DVD offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a couple of minor supplements. Rent it.