Tuesday, January 14, 2014

815. Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Running Time: 115 minutes
Directed By: Adrian Lyne
Written By: Bruce Joel Rubin
Main Cast: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven, Pruitt Taylor Vince
Click here to view the trailer


You know, for the longest time the "Jacob's Ladder" DVD sat on my movie shelf, untouched and unwatched. I blind bought it years ago, hearing so many great things about it and when it went untouched for so long, my wife and I finally decided to just sell it. As I sit here tonight, having finally seen the film, I don't regret the sale.

Tim Robbins is the star of the show this time around, playing Jacob Singer, a Vietnam war vet who is now back in the states and living his life as a postal worker. He's recently divorced from his wife and is living with his girlfriend, Jezebel (Pena) in a crummy, yet cozy little apartment in New York. The film starts out by showing us pieces of Jacob's time in Vietnam, presumably near the end, when his battalion fell under attack and Jacob is being air lifted out of the war zone. From there, we flash to Jacob waking up on a subway, revealing that everything we just saw was a hallucination. These occur frequently throughout the picture. Upon waking and in the days that follow, Jacob begins to encounter what can only be referred to as demons, which he begins to see pop up everywhere, at random moments. His girlfriend thinks he's crazy and at first he's able to shrug it off. However, things begin to get worse and the hallucinations come more frequently. It appears that Jacob is suffering from after effects of being in Vietnam - post traumatic stress disorder - but it's never made 100% clear. Later, some of Jacob's war buddies come forward and reveal that they've also been seeing demons and experiencing hallucinations and together the group decide that the whole thing must have been onset by something that happened to them during the war. They go to a lawyer and express their concern and begin steps to bring a case against the U.S. Army, however, the lawyer turns them down citing they have no case. As time goes on, Jacob begins to get more and more paranoid, as the hallucinations get worse.


I've gotta' say, that for having heard so many great things about this movie, I was very disappointed. I can't even chalk it up to being over hyped either, because even after reading the plot synopsis today, before watching it, it honestly didn't sound THAT appealing to me. The film is part horror, part psychological thriller, part mystery and it really asks us to be very patient, while we wait two hours to get to the end and find out, "Oh, he's just been dying the whole time" and really this whole movie has taken place in just a matter of minutes as he fought against death. Man, that's a decent ending and everything, but the whole movie is one big mess and to wait to get to that, it's not unlike sitting through the entire series of "Newhart" to find out that psychiatrist Dr. Bob Hartley has just been dreaming the whole time. Talk about pissed! Nah, I wasn't REALLY pissed, but I wasn't impressed either. Yeah, it's a cool idea and everything, but that's all, just an idea - not a whole movie. If you look into the history of the film, you'll find that the movie is actually loosely based on the short story "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge", which as later adapted into a Twilight Zone episode. Now that's more like it. Give me a good twenty-five minutes and keep me guessing for twenty-two of them and THEN spring this whole, "Oh, he's just been dying the whole time" thing on me. Don't make me sludge through two hours and then make me realize that there wasn't any mystery after all. Geez!

Oh and I don't think I like Tim Robbins very much, aside from "The Shawshank Redemption". Can you believe he landed four movies in THE BOOK? This, "The Player", "Bull Durham" and "Shawshank" and hell, I could be forgetting a fifth. I just don't find him to be that great of an actor. I did, however, really dig Elizabeth Pena - man, was she sexy in this. You also can't go wrong with Danny Aiello and Ving Rhames, but they really weren't in the picture enough to warrant any bonus points. I think at the end of the day, this was a fine film, but I wasn't as gaga over the payoff as other apparently were. I COULD sit through it again if I absolutely had to and I'll admit the ultimate idea is a cool one, but a "must see" this film is not and how it got such a cult following is beyond me.

RATING: 6/10  A pair of sixes to kick off my return from hiatus isn't that good, but it's not bad either. Still looking to be blown away by a BOOK movie, as possible last minute additions to my TOP 20.


January 14, 2014  11:22pm


  1. Eeerrrrmmmm.... The title of this one is very familiar, and I thought I'd seen it... but reading about it... I recall nothing whatsoever!
    My annotated copy of The book is on loan to someone, so I'm unable to check if it's even in my edition..

  2. I'm pretty sure this one has been in the whole time, although I'm not 100% certain. Let me know if you track down an answer or recall the film.

  3. No, I contact the person who has my copy.. and it is in there, ticked, and with an annotation from me saying it took me most of the film to work out what the heck was going on...

    1. So, basically you're saying it was forgettable and I can totally see that with this one. Seems like something I wouldn't worry about remembering either.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...