"THE JACKAL" is painted -- or more accurately, marketed -- with broad but entertaining brush strokes. To enjoy it, however, you have to do the mental equivalent of squinting your eyes, so the credibility is only fuzzily ridiculous. You must also forget the immeasurably superior movie (1973's "The Day of the Jackal") on which it was based. And you must focus on its basest pleasures, such as Bruce Willis's ice-cold performance as the assassin at the heart of the story.
When an elite, mysterious killer (Willis) accepts a $70-million hit job on a high-up figure in the American government, an international good-guy team scrambles. FBI Deputy Director Carter Preston (Sidney Poitier), working with Valentina Koslova (Diane Venora), a Russian career officer, is obliged to spring imprisoned Irish operative Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere), from jail. Mulqueen, who has met the Jackal and knows the tricks of his trade, agrees to help the coalition, provided he can see his old flame Isabella (Mathilda May), a Basque separatist. He also harbors the vague hope that his sentence might be cut or commuted. (You wonder where this Irish gunman and Basque separatist actually met -- an international terrorism hoe-down in Tripoli?)
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