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Day Of The Jackal (1973)

Day Of The Jackal (1973)

Could this be the predecessor to The Jackal (1997), or is the name all it has in common? Oh, it was one more thing in common: it's a story about a hitman. In this one, however, the hitman is not known as The Jackal from the start, but rather choses this name at random as his codename when speaking to a his employees. Which codename will you use for this job? Why not the Jackal? Why not. The job? To kill the president. His employees? The OAS.

The story is very factual at the beginning. It starts with a monologue. On August 1962, president Charles De Gaue of France made Albania independent. Some of the population didn't like it. A group of extremists, mostly from the army, swore to kill him in revenge. They tried once, firing over 140 shots in less than 7 seconds at the presidents car (we get a video flashback for this). Miraculously, the president made it to the airport unscathed, even though several bullets pierced the car and one came within an inch of his head. All other passengers were unhurt as well. Now, we jump back the present. OAS is riddled with informants, under surveillance, unable to do another hit, and so they send for one. A relatively unknown hitman with only one job on his resume.

So, the hitman arrives. He goes about the mission professionally, considers it a once in a lifetime job as he'll have to retire right after, and asks for half a million (a lot of money at the time). Half in advance, half on completion. And thus the story starts.

The movie takes place on both sides of the law. On one there's a Jackal, making his preparations, traveling all around the continent, getting false passports, weapons, etc. On the other side the government is trying to find him. They hire a detective to do most of the work, not without success, but it seems the Jackal is always one step ahead. The movie is cleverly filmed and plotted, and it feels like it's partly a documentary, even though it's never mentioned in the film itself. It just seems very realistic. The actors are many, none of them well known, but all putting on a good act. Though the movie is a bit long, it's exiting all the way, and the mysterious main character adds to the excitement. You never get a really good look inside his mind, though you do get to follow all his actions and preparations. Not everything follows plan, and both spontaneity and cleverness blend seamlessly. Even the toughest situations are handled as you'd expect a professional hitman to handle them, although fate doesn't seem to work in his favor.

The Jackal btw (looked it up) is pretty much the same story, with a twist, with Bruce Willis as main character, with a lot more action, with more famous actors, with not as many actors, with not as much planning and with a reinvented plot that kind of ruins the genius in this one. I enjoyed that one too, but that was before I had seen this, the original. This one gets a clear fourth of the full five. The other one... we'll see.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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