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The Day of the Jackal (1973)

Nameless, faceless... relentlessly moving towards the date with death that would rock the world.

Starring:

Adrien Cayla-Legrand

Alan Badel

Barrie Ingham

Cyril Cusack

Denis Carey

Derek JacobiDerek Jacobi

Edward Fox

Jacques Francois

Maurice Denham

Michel Auclair

Olga Georges-Picot

Raymond Gerome

Terence Alexander

Tony Britton

Vernon Dobtcheff

Directed by:

Fred Zinnemann

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 143 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: France, United Kingdom

If you want a good thriller, Frederick Forsythe is the man to go to and The Day of the Jackal is certainly one of his finest as it mixes a perfect plot, measured action and a medley of interesting characters.

The Day of the Jackal takes place in France in the late Sixties as the disbanded French Foreign Legion hire The Jackal (Fox), an expert assassin, to kill unpopular and extremely well protected French President Charles de Gaulle (Cayla-Legrand). The story simultaneously follows The Jackal’s thorough preparation for the hit and the international police force on his tail. The tension builds dramatically as they race towards the finale and a public appearance by Charlie in Paris.

Never overly violent and always ticking along at a decent pace, the story is perfectly told. Forsythe is a real master of his craft. The 1973 original is so much more stylish and classy than Michael Caton-Jones Nineties update with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere without even trying. It has a more interesting historical context and slew of fiendishly clever, scheming characters with absolutely no Jack Black to ruin things. It may be a little slow for some tastes but it is definitely worth the patience to stick with it and enjoy the ride.

Plus this has the added bonus of not being so clearly good against bad so you can have fun picking your side to cheer on. On both sides of the law there are some great, yet understated performances as the French Police Inspector subtly breaks the rules and gets the job done and The Jackal is beautifully swarthy and ruthless.

It's Got: Style, class and a perfect plot

It Needs: A little patience to get through the two hour-plus runtime with a fairly meandering pace

DVD Extras Just the trailer - shame DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Marathon Man, The Jackal, The Tourist

Summary

Not to be confused with the fairly awful Nineties reimagining, The Day of the Jackal is a marvellously stylish and classy thriller from Frederick Forsythe, the master of suspense.

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