Bad fit: Watching The Jacket requires restraints
When people talk about the subsequent work of Academy Award-winning actors, two words usually come up: Louise Fletcher. After winning the Best Actress Oscar for her supporting role in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Fletcher returned to obscurity, never playing another major role in an "A" movie.
Speaking of cuckoo's nests, The Jacket finds Adrien Brody going the Halle Berry route with a post-Oscar thriller (hers was Gothika) set in an asylum for the criminally insane.
In the '70s movies like The Jacket could be blamed on drugs. They were made by people on drugs to be seen by people on drugs.
Today, the time-travel aspects of the plot can be explained by quantum physics and the What the (Bleep) fans who appreciate films that take more vitamins than drugs.
I don't know what director John Maybury (Love Is the Devil: Sketches for a Portrait of Francis Bacon), who spends more time in the contemporary art world than the film world, was on when he made The Jacket.
Brody plays Jack Starks, who is wounded– killed, actually, but revived– in the Gulf War. A year later, suffering from retrograde amnesia, he's hitchhiking in Vermont and blacks out when a cop is killed. Jack is sent to the Alpine Grove Psychiatric Institute, where Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson) experiments on him.
Jack is pumped full of drugs, put in restraints and shut in a drawer in the morgue for hours at a time. "It's like being in the womb," Dr. Becker explains. He also excuses what he does with, "You can't break something that's already broken." The restraints supposedly include the (strait)jacket of the title, but we never see it. It looks like Jack is strapped into a body bag with the head end left open.
The sensory deprivation starts Jack tripping. He has glimpses of traumatic events in his past, but these flashbacks give way to flash-forwards, 15 years in the future, when he's befriended by beautiful but troubled Jackie Price (Keira Knightley). Through her he learns that he died on New Year's Day, 1993, which gives him about a week to change the past to change the future.
Other hospital inhabitants include dedicated Dr. Lorenson (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Rudy Mackenzie (Daniel Craig), an example of the kind of person who really belongs there.
The story is reasonably engrossing to this point, despite the feeling that there's an IV hooked up to the film and Maybury is feeding it a steady drip of pretentious artiness. That feeling continues as the plot loses momentum during the investigation and resolution phases. The silliness quotient rises steadily, culminating in a scene where two doctors are apparently going to let a patient bleed to death.
There's one possibility the script doesn't confront. Jack meets Jackie as a little girl before he gets into trouble. Her wasted mother (Kelly Lynch) screams at him not to touch the child. The fact that his mind seeks her out in the future and they become romantically involved could indicate he had some unhealthy feelings for the girl.
Had the movie held my interest, my mind wouldn't have had time for such detours. Most viewers will require restraints as strong as Jack's to make them sit through the final hour of The Jacket.