The Day of the Jackal

The Day of the Jackal ★★★★

Maybe its because I'm someone from a country where countless coups have plunged the country into such dire straits to the point we celebrate up to four days of independence. Maybe that's why I distrust those who seek to bring about change to some extent, since behind those good intentions may lie the desire to become like those who they seek to overthrow. Not always, but often.

These feelings flooded my head as I watched this excellent film opening with the assassination attempt on French politician Charles de Gaulle. Many people wanted to see this man dead, but those who succeeded in doing so would have done the same or worse job. History wouldn't have been the same and France would not have been the same. The police, who have always come under strong criticism by the society for very good and justified reasons, emerge as heroes at times like these. The stability of an entire nation relies on the hunt for this mercenary who'd labeled as the "Jackal." Fred Zinnermann manages to translate this alarming tension through the movie effectively. He is more of a walking time bomb than a murderer.

This is something that Edward Fox understands and conveys through his performance. There is the coldness of a man of his trade, a man who cannot afford to show any emotion. But, like almost any sociopath, he is also capable of faking charisma. Michael Lonsdale and his team are both good detectives who are actively searching for this individual, leading to an intriguing game of cat and mouse.

Zinnermann employs techniques typical of the spy and thriller genres of the 70s with a series of zooms, panning shots and a brilliant blocking job. In some ways, he succeeds in doing what Melville did when he set out to make these incredibly frightening thrillers using nothing more than a great script, great performances, and simple but effective and wonderful cinematography.

All in all, despite its lack of music and slow burn pacing, fans of Melville or Spielberg's "Munich" owe this one a watch.

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Day of the Jackal

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