It doesn't fit neatly into any box yet this story of a psychiatric patient who travels through time via a morgue drawer feels oddly familiar. Director John Maybury evokes 12 Monkeys, Jacob's Ladder and Memento without ever matching the dramatic elegance or visceral punch of those films. Still, The Jacket tingles the spine and stimulates the grey matter with more frequency than the average sci-fi potboiler and Adrien Brody delivers a wonderfully restrained performance - even without the straitjacket.
He's Gulf War vet Jack Starks whose brain is short-circuited by a bullet to the head. His disorientation is niftily conveyed in a scattered opening that finds him back in small-town Vermont where he's sectioned for killing a cop. To elicit a confession, the sinister Dr Becker (Kris Kristofferson) pumps him with drugs, straps him down and shoves him inside a morgue drawer. Somehow this opens a wormhole to the future where Starks falls for a troubled waitress (Keira Knightley) despite being dead already and enlists her to help find his killer. Confused?
Although Starks is cast as both victim and investigator, this is really just a conventional murder mystery. In fact the plot is wafer thin, but viewed through a cracked lens it becomes an intriguing maze built of paranoia and self-doubt. It's genuinely unnerving in places with Maybury employing psychedelic visuals while Brody squirms in the dark with eyes roving like a freshly hatched eagle. Keira Knightley is credible, but it's Jennifer Jason Leigh as a well-meaning nurse who provides the anchor. Ultimately it doesn't amount to much, but like Starks' drug-induced trip, The Jacket is about the journey not the destination.