The Cold War's over, but Russia's gangsters don't like FBI interference on their patch. Angered by the death of his brother, one of the Russians decides to punish the Bureau by hiring a top assassin, the Jackal (Willis), to eliminate a high profile target in full view of the American public. Working with Russian intelligence officer Koslova (Venora), the FBI's Deputy Director (Poitier) reckons the only way to stop the killer is to enlist imprisoned IRA terrorist Mulqueen (Gere) - who has his own reasons for hating the Jackal. So begins a race against time as the assassin, an anonymous master of disguise, moves in on his as-yet unidentified prey. Structurally, of course, this film echoes The Day of the Jackal, but where Fred Zinnemann opted for a meticulous, even dull study in procedural methods, Caton-Jones goes for pacy, well-staged action, colourful characters, and determinedly contemporary atmosphere. If it's sometimes hard to accept Gere's accent and tough guy stuff, Willis plays the lone, heartless killer with menace, flair and evident glee. Excellent performances, too, from Poitier and Venora.
Cast and crew