2 out of 10 

Release Date: 22nd Sept 2008

Director: Bob Phillips

Cast: Simon Phillips, Rita Ramnani, Aurelie Amblard, Rula Lenska, Daniel Roberts, James Frail, Ashlie Walker with Eric Cantona and Mike Reid

Writer: Paul Tanter

Trailer: JACK SAYS

Jack. What’s in a name? Jack – so many Jacks. The giant killer. The Depp-ish pirate. Lost, 24, Torchwood and Dr Who all have heroic Jacks who know what they’re doing. And the numerous Jacks played by Keanu and Harrison and Tom and Michael and no doubt Bruce, Arnold and Sylvester. Jack. It’s a name to depend on. A name to trust. It’s the name of a hero. Or, in this case, a slightly podgy Scottish amnesiac who may or may not be a policeman or murderer with a penchant for talking to himself.

What a title. But what does Jack say I hear you wonder? Well, he says quite a lot in this film, mostly in uninspired voice-over, and all of it in an unconvincing Scottish accent. Which is unsurprising because at one point (well, several points actually) Jack says, ‘talk is cheap’. And this film is cheap, which maybe explains why there’s so much talk. I don’t mind talk in a film, as long as it’s interesting. Alas….

We meet Jack in moody black and white. Well, it’s not moody really, it just looks like they’ve turned the colour down rather than actually filmed it in a nice shiny monochrome. Mike Reid (SNATCH) is The Guv’nor and is having Jack beaten up. It’s always nice to see Big Mike, particularly now that he’s dead, and this was his last film. He doesn’t last long. He hurls a load of abuse at the tied-up Jack, talks about ‘mettyphors’ and generally proves that he would have been a great asset to the Sothcott / Philips / Tanter stables.

But he winds up dead (the character as well as the actor) and Jack finds that he’s lost his memory. He also finds the corpse of The Guv’nor next to him. Jack tells us that he’s trying to remember stuff then looks in his wallet. He quickly finds out his name is Jack, he also finds that he possesses a photograph of a pair of breasts, with an address in France scribbled on the back (of the photo, not on the back of the breasts).

Well, the breasts are his only lead, so he follows them to Paris and things begin to get very odd. After chatting with Eric Cantona (LOOKING FOR ERIC) for no discernible reason (other than to prove that we’re in France), Jack finds himself sucked into a rather strange business involving a lady singer called X, and the lesbian cannibal (according to the extras) played by Rula Lenska (GYPO) (!) who wants to ‘own’ her. X isn’t interested and appeals to Jack for help, or refuses his help. I can’t quite remember. Probably both.

Meanwhile, we have a Pregnant Woman Syndrome alert! Yes, the address on the photo is that of Rita Ramnani (STRIPPERS VS. WEREWOLVES) as Jack’s ex (but she still loves him). And she’s pregnant! Obviously she will die. (But she is not the owner of the breasts. Who is? We never find out. This seems most remiss.)

So what has Jack forgotten? Will he find out? To whom are the breasts attached? Is the whole plot involving X and the lesbian cannibal completely beside the point? And what does Jack say? That last question is the only one to receive an answer (though I’ve forgotten what it was; probably something along the lines of ‘Jack says don’t fuck with Jack’. Hopefully the Quest for the Polaroid Knockers will continue as JACK SAYS is the opening salvo of a trilogy (the JACK trilogy) so I am confident that all these questions will be satisfactorily answered.

Dear reader, I have been avoiding the JACK trilogy for a long time. But I have finally grabbed the nettle, and I have to admit that Jack Says is not as bad as I thought it might have been. (But then I was expecting Basement bad, and it’s not down there with that.) Simon Philips (UFO) is likeable if utterly unconvincing as a tough undercover cop. And unconvincing as an amnesiac. And as a Scot. And as a co-director. But I’ve grown to like him in a cuddly, ‘you-can-do-it!’ kind of way. Meanwhile Rita Ramnani escapes from the cameo-hell that seems to have enveloped her and delivers a suitably sweet performance as a doomed idiot. Ashlie Walker is fun as a rather hopeless femme fatale, and James Frail is appallingly awful as the only policeman at Scotland Yard. He attempts world-weariness but achieves only boredom. The film is so inept he has but one colleague – a doctor who doubles as investigator, pathologist, confidante, secretary and tea-maker. They do joke about this, but alas the joke is delivered by Frail with a tone flatter than the flattest bits of Norfolk.

Meanwhile London is doubling for Paris, and Paris is doubling for London. We know some of it is shot in Paris because there’s the Eiffel Tower! (It must be really cheap to film in France – look at White Collar Hooligan, Twenty8K, and, presumably, Dead In France). Bless them, the film-makers were so happy to be over there that things like time go out of the window. For example, Jack goes out to buy breakfast (traditionally a morning repast); by the time he returns, the police are trying to get into his apartment. Jack immediately escapes under cover of night. Maybe there was an eclipse? Two days later (or so it seems) the police have just got into the apartment and are examining the body.

Jack Says rather bizarrely tries to sell itself as a British Sin City. I’m not sure why, that film was an over-hyped under-achiever which has nothing in common with Jack Says. (OK some of it’s in black and white, and it’s based on a comic book.) At its best you do find yourself wondering about Jack’s amnesia. At its worst, the film is muddled, amateurish, illogical and silly. And not much fun. I shall report any improvements in Jack Said as soon as I can. I’m sure it’ll be better, after all Danny Dyer’s (DEVIATION) in it. by Joe Pesci II



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