If there is any cinematic value to “The Jacket,” it comes from Brody, who gives us a sympathetic protagonist.  You can’t help but feel sorry for this poor soldier, who is lonely, lost and desperately searching for a shred of kindness from someone – anyone.  That he finds it in Jackie is understandable, but tragic.  After all, he’s a grown man and she’s just a little girl.  But through the magic of time travel, they’re within dating age of one another.  How sick is that? 

Knightley, on the other hand, simply cannot act, and spends the majority of her screen time either biting her lip or biting her nails.  Those who appreciate her physical charms will enjoy several shots of her breasts – both in the tub, when she’s alone, and when she’s making love with Jack.  Kristofferson is creepy and believable, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, as the other doctor overseeing Jack, is conflicted yet compassionate.  MacKenzie Phillips, as a nurse who shoves Jack in and yanks him out of his drawer, looks so bad she’s a walking advertisement against drug use.

Interestingly enough, “The Jacket” actually offers some positive messages.  On the one hand, it gives a negative portrait of the Gulf War and what happens to soldiers after they come home.  It also portrays Dr. Becker as a church-going, praying Christian (one scene even takes place outside his church), which many Christians will find incredibly offensive – the usual stereotype of an evil Christian, taken to an extreme. 

On the other hand, the film shows the importance of parents on a child’s life.  Jack goes back and changes things for Jackie and her mother, by warning them of her impending death.  Also, if you interpret the film as a parable, you might uncover an additional message about death and life (which Jack attempts to decipher in a final voiceover, but ends up speaking the usual cinematic psychobabble).  The truth that is there, though buried, is that even though we might be in the darkest, most lonely of places, controlled by evil people, there is always hope.  We can find meaning and even escape from our fate by changing those little, day-to-day decisions which, despite their seeming triviality, have great impact on our future.

That’s definitely an important, hopeful message, particularly in the wake of multiple Oscars awarded to films like “Million Dollar Baby,” which tell us that the only way out is death.  Do you want to sift through the darkness of this movie to find that message?  That’s up to you.  It’s certainly a very different film from most that you’ll see.  But I’m not sure that makes it better.
AUDIENCE:  Adults only


  • Drugs/Alcohol Content:     Extensive smoking and drinking throughout film; misuse of illegal drugs by doctors on patients.
  • Language/Profanity:      Approximately two dozen obscenities and profanities (including at least 8 f- words).
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:    Several graphic shots of nudity including one female character in bath (breasts) and two characters making love; doctor discusses a young child who was raped; male character undresses to underwear (side view).
  • Violence:    Shots of wartime violence including child who shoots adult at point-blank range; jerky shots of violent murder of police officer, also at point-blank range; shots of dead bodies and blood; live human is forced into a straightjacket and shoved into a morgue drawer, again and again, despite great protest; man pulls out IV needle, which induces bleeding; tremendous emotional and psychological abuse by doctors and those in authority.