Director: Bob Phillips.
Writers: Paul Tanter, and Paula Baker.
Jack Says is a Kalimasu and Lucky Strike co-production, which was released in 2008. Shot partially in London, Jack Says has already spawned two sequels and this crime noir thriller offers some interesting interactions, but little in the way of thrills. Currently being distributed by Your Indie Films in North America, Jack Says is worth a mention, especially some of the camera techniques, but the film is not completely satisfying.
The film begins with Jack (Simon Phillips) tied to a chair while being flambéed by the Guv’Nor (Mike Reid) with questionable metaphors. Several minutes later Jack wakes up with no memory of previous events and a bloody head wound. Much of the film from here on in follows Jack as he tries to restore his memories with an address and a Polaroid picture of naked breasts. Instead, Jack finds an ex-girlfriend and more violent interactions which leave several cast members dead or dying.
First time director Bob Phillips keeps past events in black and whites. The present is shown in colour and Phillips shows an ability to shown long, short, and close-ups, but no other interesting angles. The visual sphere is adequate yet too too simple. Cult film reviewer MJ Simpson says of the picture’s appeal: “Bob Komar does a smashing job with both the colour and monochrome photography,” this comment is spot on from this viewer’s perspective. Yet, where is the creativity in the use of camera angles?
The writing of the film adds a few twists and turns along the way, with some mystery added in through Jack’s lost memory. However, the pacing seems brutally slow and the lovely cast is not enough to make up for the film’s flaws. Simpson says of the writing: “this film is interesting, exciting, often stylish – but it’s not clever.” Also, Jack’s character could definitely have used a back story and many of the other characters, because of Jack’s memory loss, seem one-dimensional, or flat. Hopefully, the writing was tuned up for the sequels, Jack Said and Jack Falls.
One enjoyable addition to the film is the use of comedy, despite being billed as an action drama. Nicknames for the thug-like characters for instance “Twinkle” and “Peanut” are hilarious. Also lines improvised like: “would you like a latte, or a croissant” while a character is being tortured, liven up some of the more monotonous bits of dialogue. Others comedic bits take place and with a few more lines and interactions like the ones mentioned above could really have made this film a lot more fun.
Jack Says is not a bad film, but this independent film is not brilliant either. The other sequels have not been seen by this reviewer, but hopefully the series has made some progression in the visual make-up of the film and the characters. The film is available now for those who like neo-noir crime styled thrillers. Those who like more thrills with their cinema would be better off taking a chance on the sequels rather than this first Bob Phillips production.
*some leeway can be given to the director as this is his first film
Writing/story/plot: 6.5 (an interesting start and premise with Jack’s lost memory, but the film seems to lose momentum early).
Characters/characterizations/believability: 6 (Simon Phillips acting as Jack is not exciting to watch on any level, actress Rula Lenskey as Garvey steals the show in her few scenes).
Directing techniques/camera techniques: 7 (only the monochrome and colour switching back and forth create any interest, otherwise the directing techniques are simple and ordinary, nothing risky here).
Overall: 6.15 out of 10.
The film has been given a more positive review at MJ Simpson:
A Jack Says Review at MJ Simpson
The Jack Says official website:
The Jack Says Official Website