The Day of the Jackal Reviews

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February 4, 2015
A master class in filmmaking. Maintains tension and suspense throughout it 140+ minute running time. Fox is fantastic as the titular character and Lonsdale is fantastic as his hunter. The cast is filled out with numerous character actors and some wonderful locations.
½ January 26, 2015
I've heard that this is supposed to be a great movie, and for its time, it's pretty good. While it is an entertaining thriller throughout, there are plenty of problems with the film. I say that, but the biggest issue is the films length. While two hours and twenty-five minutes is certainly not too bad on its own, it certainly feels like length padding. What doesn't help is the fact that the ending is left to be rather inconclusive. That aside, the performances were good enough that they lift the movie from the level of total tedium. The production values are also very good for the time, even though the majority of the film's colour palette seems to be composed principally of muted colours. Fortunately for me, the film wasn't just two-and-a-half hours of silence, though to be honest, the film could have used a little more action. Other than the aforementioned flaws, it's a good thriller movie that has aged quite well. If you have a lot of patience for suspense thrillers, then I'd recommend seeing this one, and in the thriller department, it's certainly better than a lot of the James Bond films.
March 13, 2014
Icy but otherwise perfect. Fox seems meant for this role.
½ November 18, 2014
Director Fred Zinnemann's "The Day of the Jackal" faithfully follows the Frederick Forsyth best-selling novel (The Dogs of War), which presents an unpretentious and precise reconstruction of the story. Zinnemann's low-key approach is a textbook example of how to make an exciting and sophisticated suspense film without relying on overblown action sequences or flashy visual effects. Zinnemann establishes a pace that is deliberate, but never boring.

An underground terrorist group in France, the OAS, decide to hire a professional killer to assassinate French President Charles De Gaulle (Adrien Cayla-Legrand) after their previous attempts have failed. Their next move is to hire a professional assassin, an English hit man responsible for several high-profile assassinations. Charles Calthrop (Edward Fox) accepts the contract to assassinate the President, and takes on the alias of 'Jackal'. The Jackal methodically prepares to put his plan into action: gathering a new identity, collecting forged documents and a French passport, and finally a custom-built rifle. Top French police investigator Lebel (Michel Lonsdale) learns the name 'Jackal' from an informer in the plotter's ranks and cleverly pieces together the identity of the killer-for-hire.

As with all good thrillers, it's the chase leading up to the climactic finale that is the best part of watching the plot unfold. In relating its tense tale of political wrangling, the intricate and meticulous story develops with a parallel structure that details the Jackal's preparations for the assassination, and Lebel's ongoing efforts to stop him. Fox is superb as the coldly impassioned assassin, and Lonsdale is magnificently analytical as the obsessive detective tracking him down. Despite its measured pace, the tension slowly mounts as the Jackal closes in on his high value target, and the authorities pull out all the stops to find him first. A taut, fascinating, and timeless political thriller.
September 6, 2014
This is how you make a suspenseful thriller! The film details the preparation an assassin goes through before he tries to take out his target: Charles De Gaulle.

The assassin, codenamed the Jackal, was played by a then unknown Edward Fox. Fox is perfect in the role. He is perfect as this enigmatic man who we know nothing about, and yet, not for one second do you doubt that this man is a professional.

For a film this long, the suspense builds beautifully because director Fred Zinnemann knows just what he's doing. The only downside is that observant students of history will know the outcome already (The film takes place in 1963. De Gaulle was president of France until 1969) Still, the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat, and constantly guessing as to who will outsmart who.

This is a darn good thriller and everyone who wants an edge of your seat ride should check it out.
½ January 8, 2012
There have been quite a lot of similar movies produced since but I guess this was one of the originals. Good film with an interesting story. Quite Bondish in it's Englishness, which is weird as it's mainly set in France but nevermind.
½ November 15, 2011
A classic thriller, has aged sort of decently. Definitely would be edited to be paced much faster if done today. For that reason, it could use a 30 minute or so trim.
June 17, 2014
One of the few movies that was as good as the original book. Once again not a conventional action thriller, director Zimmerman, takes time to build up the tension, the pace to the climax. The planning the Jackal does in his mission to eliminate De Gaulle is well depicted, as is the man hunt by the French police to capture him. If you love a taut, well paced, intelligent thriller, this is the one for you.
½ May 8, 2014
A well crafted thriller that does not need schizophrenic set piece moments every 5 minutes to grab your attention. This is all about the tricks of the perfect assassins trade and the detective work needed to catch him in time.
March 28, 2014
Intelligent, taut and well paced, "Day of the Jackal" is a political thriller that captivates from beginning to end. The execution is pitch perfect and Edward Fox's performance in particular could not have been better. It's the kind of thriller that Hollywood rarely makes any-more and its a shame that more modern thrillers can't be directed with the bravado and tension that this film offer in it's runtime.
½ March 1, 2014
Watched it based on a recommendation and it was very good.
October 26, 2013
A great thriller that has a great plot and is very suspenseful. It's nail-biting and puts you on the edge of your seat - even though you know what the ending is. That is the mark of a great movie.
½ August 10, 2013
"The Day of The Jackal" is a slowly paced, but exceptionally suspenseful political thriller about a conspiracy to assassinate the French President Charles De Gaulle. The story is based on the novel with the same name, which has integrated a lot of real French history into the fictional story, for example the OAS and their true intent to murder De Gaulle, this adds a lot of credibility to the plot. Edward Fox does an outstanding job playing the ice-cold professional killer known as The Jackal and so does Michel Lonsdale who plays investigator Lebel, my only complaint is that that to little screen-time is spent familiarising the viewer with this character. The film is essentially a cat and mouse chase between the two in which The Jackal always seems to be one step ahead. A classic film that I would strongly recommend for all fans of thrillers.
September 17, 2013
A police procedural in the guise of a political thriller, "Day of the Jackal" is impressively-detailed but more restrained than many of its peers. Star power and the promise of intense action took its genre cousins "The French Connection" and "Three Days of the Condor," for example, to $40-50 million finishes in 1971 and 1975, respectively, but the slower-boiling "Jackal" barely broke $16 million. In quality of production, "Jackal" excels but seems to hearken back. It has the feel of an early 1960s film (and since it is set in 1963 that is appropriate), with the clothes and the cinematography and even the posh European setting all feeling right for a slick actioner of that era. The plot follows detectives and assassins, the first always half a step behind the second, but there is none of that stuff called "grit" that defines so many crime and espionage movies from the 1970s onward. Everything is in broad daylight, beautifully-shot with the smooth, washed-out look of director Zinnemann's other color productions like "Julia" (1977) and "A Man for All Seasons" (1966), and the necessary violence is handled perfunctorily and virtually bloodlessly. Nobody shouts, the one car crash is an accidental fender-bender, and when a French minister is implicated in an embarrassing security breach in the middle of a briefing he quietly apologizes and excuses himself. Nobody makes a scene. The decision to go with a low-key script is interesting, especially since the audience presumably knows that President Charles de Gaulle was not the victim of assassination and therefore knows from the beginning how the main plot will end. But the strength of a procedural, as opposed to a thriller, is not always in tension but in detail and the depiction of characters, and in these respects Zinnemann is master.
½ August 17, 2013
An assassination cinematic classic.
½ July 27, 2013
TOHO CINEMAS Nagoya Baycity, 2013/7/27
July 26, 2013
Another gem that has slipped me by time and time again but finally got round to watching it. A pleasing and suspenseful thriller that just keeps building and building with tension.
June 23, 2013
Zinneman is a three time Oscar winner - twice for best director, once for best documentary short subject. But nowhere - not in High Noon, not A Man for All Seasons - is his considerable talent more evident than here, in The Day of the Jackal (a film which did not even secure him a nomination). While perhaps not his greatest film - in that the story is told for the story's own sake, possessing few (if any) of the deeply fascinating philosophical, ethical or theological implications many of his other works hold - it is certainly his most perfect, with every scene cut and shot exquisitely and Edward Fox delivering a truly chilling performance as a ruthless assassin, who disguises his cold blooded nature behind a veneer of English charm and sophistication. There are complaints that it is long and boring, but honestly, I could not disagree more. The suspense is taught, the story brilliantly engaging - from one of the greatest literary thrillers of all time comes one of the greatest cinematic thrillers of all time. Five stars and a place among my all time favourites - this is one for the ages.
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