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The Jackal is a 1997 suspense film starring Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Diane Venora and Sidney Poitier. It was directed by Michael Caton-Jones. While its title is similar to the 1973 film The Day of the Jackal, it shares only the main story point of an anonymous assassin and some general plot elements.


A joint mission of the Americanmarker FBImarker and the Russianmarker MVD leads to the death of the younger brother of a Russian mobster. In retaliation, the mobster hires an enigmatic assassin known only by the pseudonym "The Jackal" (Bruce Willis) to carry out the killing of an unknown-to-the-viewer target. Meanwhile, the Russian MVD capture one of the mobster's henchman. On interrogation he reveals information about the Jackal. This coupled with the documents recovered from the henchman's briefcase lead the FBI and MVD to assume the target for the retaliatory hit is FBI Director Donald Brown.

As the Jackal begins his preparations for the assassination, the FBI learns of one person who can identify him. FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston (Sidney Poitier) and Russian Police Major Valentina Koslova (Diane Venora) turn to a former Irish Republican Army sniper named Declan Joseph Mulqueen (Richard Gere), who had a relationship with a Basque woman named Isabella Zanconia (Mathilda May), who they believe can identify The Jackal. Mulqueen eventually agrees to help in exchange for their best efforts to get him released from prison.

It becomes apparent that Mulqueen has a personal motive for hunting the Jackal, he wounded Zanconia while she was pregnant with Mulqueen's child causing a miscarriage. Zanconia provides information that can help identify the Jackal, including the fact that he is American. Meanwhile, the Jackal hires Ian Lamont (Jack Black) to design and build a mount for the weapon he intends to use for the assassination. Assuming the Jackal is simply planning a robbery, Lamont demands more money in exchange for keeping quiet. The Jackal responds by brutally murdering Lamont. The FBI discovers Lamont's body and, with the help of Mulqueen, correctly deduce that the Jackal intends to utilise a long-range machine gun for the assassination. As the Jackal realises he is being tracked, he infiltrates Zanconia's house. Instead of Zanconia, however, he finds Koslova and promptly kills her.

As the Jackal makes his final preparations, Mulqueen finally realises that his target is not the FBI Director, but the First Lady (Tess Harper), who is due to give a major public speech. Arriving just in time, Mulqueen successfully disables the Jackal's weapon, while Preston saves the First Lady from a volley of gunfire. The Jackal attempts to escape into the subway but is pursued, and killed, by Mulqueen, and Zanconia respectively.

A few days later, Preston and Mulqueen stand as the only witnesses to the Jackal's burial in an unmarked grave. After exchanging a few words, Preston lets Mulqueen go free.


Box office reception

The Jackal premièred on November 14, 1997 with an opening weekend totaling $15,164,595. It would go on to gross $159,330,280 worldwide. Against its $60m budget, the movie was a financial success.

Critical reception

The film received mostly negative reviews from critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it a "glum, curiously flat thriller"; Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle called it "more preposterous than thrilling"; and Russell Smith of the Austin Chronicle called it "1997's most tedious movie".

Fred Zinnemann, director of The Day of the Jackal, fought with Universal Pictures to change the title of the movie so it wouldn't share the original's name. (Frederick Forsyth, who wrote the novel the original film was based on, also publicly distanced himself regarding his novel and the remake.) The film was credited as being "based on the screenplay for Day of the Jackal by Kenneth Ross."


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