The Day of the Jackal (1973)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Political Thriller  |   Run Time - 140 min.  |   Countries - France, United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Considered one of the superior 1960s/1970s spy thrillers, Fred Zinnemann's adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's bestseller combined an eye for stylish European locales with a chillingly detailed account of an assassin's mission to kill French president Charles de Gaulle. Cross-cutting between the Jackal's preparations and Inspector Lebel's efforts to find the phantom killer before the crime occurs, Day of the Jackal gains power by focusing on the two opposite jobs at hand rather than indulging in either psychology or gratuitous violence. Devoid of politics and past, Edward Fox's blond killer embodies the phrase "hired gun"; he may be charming and keenly clever, but he is ominously professional about his work. Still, the question of whether he will succeed becomes as enthralling as whether Lebel will get him; the ending's sense of random yet pervasive menace was made all the more timely by the contemporary rash of assassinations. The location photography and the Jackal's lethal cool more than made up for complaints about plot holes. The film was loosely remade in 1997 as the more flashy and violent The Jackal.