The Day of the Jackal


The Day of the Jackal

Critics Consensus

The Day of the Jackal is a meticulously constructed thriller with surprising irreverence and taut direction.



Total Count: 22


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,934
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Movie Info

In this involving political thriller, a secret French paramilitary organization plans to assassinate French President Charles De Gaulle (Adrien Cayla-Legrand) because of their disagreement with his policies during the Algerian War. They hire a professional killer, known only as "The Jackal" (Edward Fox). The police learn of the plot from an informer, and police investigator Lebel (Michel Lonsdale) cleverly pieces together the clues to the Jackal's identity. The complicated plot uses parallel editing to cross-cut between the details of the Jackal's preparations for the assassination and Lebel's efforts to find him before it is too late. Fred Zinnemann presents the story, faithfully adapted from the book by Frederick Forsyth, with precise, dramatic flair. Edward Fox is coldly alluring as the Jackal. Well acted and directed, Day of the Jackal is a tense and engrossing political thriller with a surprising ending. ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi


Critic Reviews for The Day of the Jackal

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (2)

  • It's a polished and exciting thriller, mercifully unburdened with heavy political/philosophical digressions.

    Nov 1, 2007 | Full Review…
  • The major asset of the film is that it succeeds in maintaining interest and suspense despite obvious viewer foreknowledge of the outcome.

    Nov 1, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Low on documentary conviction and political context, but an intriguing exercise in concealing the obvious.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • I wasn't prepared for how good it really is: it's not just a suspense classic, but a beautifully executed example of filmmaking.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • The details are minutely observed and, to me, just a bit boring.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5
  • Zinnemann's tale of an extremist faction's plot to kill the celebrated French leader and the authorities' efforts to capture the mercenary assassin hired for the job achieves a dignified tone and compelling pace seldom seen in latter-day thrillers.

    Apr 17, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Nick Hilditch
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Day of the Jackal

  • Sep 30, 2012
    Hands down one of the very best thrillers that I've ever seen, "The Day of the Jackal" works on so many different levels because of the sophistication of its screenplay and direction coupled with the sleekness of Edward Fox's performance as the methodical assassin. It's engaging from start to finish, breaking only from its lighting-like pace to pause for scenes of worthwhile character development. "The Day of the Jackal" closes with a pulse pounding finale that ends just swiftly enough to make it slightly unsatisfying, but it is nevertheless a thrilling, well-made experience that will not be forgotten.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Jan 24, 2011
    Mesmerisingly detailed, cold and unbiased thriller set around an assassin's efforts to kill Charles De Gaulle and a policeman's efforts to stop him. A brilliant cast also help to make this big screen version of the Frederick Forsyth novel a genuine classic.
    The S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 06, 2010
    this movie is 2 1/2 hours long.. i fell a sleep a handful of times and there's no music in the whole thing. it's very boring and very long. i like the "remake" with bruce willis called The Jackal much better.
    Alexis N Super Reviewer
  • Jun 09, 2010
    This movie was so epic in its story. A film surrounding a plot to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle. It's an ultimate Thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I could easily compare this to the Bourne Movies. But this movie stands in a class by itself. Edward Fox is awesome as the Jackal. The OAS seek to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle due to the fact that he decided to give Algeria it's independence. After a failed coup, the OAS hire the help of an English Assassin to carry out de Gaulle's demise. Edward Fox delivers something so unique on screen that every time he's on screen, he almost believe he's a cold blooded killer. This film should have further'd Fox's career. He's only played in a handful of films since. Despite this, He was phenomenal in this film, and he is an underrated talent. The Day Of The Jackal is a solidly paced Thriller. Not many films have succeeded in offering something this thrilling, and this film remains in a league of it's own as one of the greatest Thriller films ever made. This film is highly suspenseful from the first jaw dropping five minutes of the film to the exhilarating climax, this film is a smartly crafted film that has an outstanding cast. Director Fred Zinnermann has done a masterful job at adapting Frederick Forsyth's masterwork of pulse pounding thrills. Aside from a few changes, this adaptation is very faithful to the book, and it's just as exciting as the book. So if you're planning on renting this film, be prepared to view one of the greatest Thriller films ever made, not many have come close to this classic. You will be wowed at how great this film is.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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