Chosen for Official Selection at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, produced by Steven Soderbergh and starring Oscar winner Adrien Brody, The Jacket has all the credentials to be a great film. In addition, the story of Gulf War veteran Jack Starks (Brody), a man institutionalized in a center for the criminally insane trying to absolve himself by travelling to the future, should be more than enough to keep you interested. And yet, in spite of strong performances by Brody, with support from Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kris Kristofferson, the dialogue disappoints and the screenplay fails to keep the plot in motion.
The most obvious comparison to The Jacket that comes to mind is The Butterfly Effect. Like that film, The Jacket relies on editing and style rather than special effects to render its sci-fi premise. But besides several face-value distinctions between the two films (Brody's character travels forward in time instead of back; unlike Ashton Kutcher, Brody doesn't suck at life; etc.), they differ profoundly in their underlying philosophies. While The Butterfly Effect is a film built on the basis that even our most minute actions can carry tremendous consequences, The Jacket uses its sci-fi time travel plot to put forth a greater message about life, mortality, and the frightening and beautiful interplay between both. Whether you'll buy the message is another question entirely.