Friday, December 31, 2010

Jack's Back (1988)

I have a fondness for thrillers from the eighties, and it’s weird that I’ve never seen Jack’s Back until now. The title is silly and takes away some of the seriousness of the movie, but if you manage to look beyond the goofy title this is one helluva fine movie with lots of excellent actors, twists and turns.

James Spader (who some hetero’s I know, would go gay for) is a medical student working for a local help centre. But there’s trouble in an already troubled neighbourhood – a serial killer is running around copying the murders of Jack the Ripper! Our hero starts to suspect one of his co-workers, but everything is turned upside down when… ah, I won’t tell you!

Listen to me, before you watch Jack’s Back and you haven’t seen it before – don’t look at IMDB, don’t read to much about it (there won’t be any spoilers in my text), just find it and watch it. This movie has a couple of surprises that is much more effective if you don’t know them. I didn’t know, and it was a blast watching the twists coming from every corner. You just have to look at the credit list at IMDB to get one major spoiler, so don’t.

This is a nice mix between Hitchcock and De Palma (which always hangs together), with that typical and cool eighties feeling. It’s colourful and almost arty, because this was a time when commercial thrillers was allowed to be a bit arty, a bit odd. The ensemble of actors is fine, especially James Spader and Robert Picardo. I know it’s a tired thing to write, but Spader’s quest to find the killer and Picardo’s psychiatrist could both be characters from some neo-noir… maybe this is a noir, but masked to look like a serial killer thriller from 1988?

Don’t expect any gore, but it’s a quite violent movie with some wonderful fist fights and a lot of tension. But watch it for the script, which is such a beautiful creation of red herrings and well-written characters that some modern directors and writers should be ashamed of themselves for even thinking about doing movies (no names here, I want to be a bit polite).

The UK DVD is fullscreen, probably open matte because in one sequence a detail is spoiled because it probably should be out of frame (but it just don’t matter) and looks quite soft, but still very acceptable and worth purchasing for you that would like to own this awesome little movie.

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