Jacob's Ladder

 RATED-(R)-113 MIN-1990

                   Jacob's Ladder is still a haunting and thought provoking movie

Jacobs ladder poster

I distinctly remember seeing  (Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder) when it first came out in 1990, and how quiet the theater was when the film ended. People walked out not talking much to each other. It's one of those movies, that makes you go back, and stitch together what you just saw in your mind, trying to make sense of it. Written by the same person ( Bruce Joel Rubin) who also gave us the extremely popular, and much easier to swallow (Ghost), (Jacob's Ladder) is a haunting and sometimes disturbing tale of one man's journey from one place to another. I hadn't seen it in some time, so I watched it on Amazon Prime, and I was pleased to see how well it hs aged. The iconic, from above shot, of the main character, lying in a tub with tears rolling down the side of his face, after a horrible ordeal, is worth watching just for that.

Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) is a Vietnam veteran who survived a
major battle, along with his fellow platoon members, where many men died, and which he remembers only in flashbacks and fragments. War is hell, but Jacob knows that there is something terribly wrong about what happened that fateful day. Jacob was also married once and he has three children, one of whom died tragically while riding his bike. His name was Gabe (a very young, Macaulay Culkin), and Jacob is haunted by his son's tragic death.

Jacob subway

Now a quiet and withdrawn vet with a bad back, Jacob lives with his girlfriend Jezzie (an excellent Elizabeth Peña), in a rundown apartment in New York City. They both work for the Post office, she in the mailroom and he, a mail carrier. Jacob is basically living in a haze, with thoughts of his deceased son, and his war experience weighing heavy on his mind.

One day while riding the subway home from work, Jacob falls asleep and misses his stop. When he awakens he sees a homeless man sleeping near him, with some sort of thing crawling back under the man's, old and large winter jacket. Disturbed, he leaves the train, but can't seem to get out of the station, as all the exits are locked. When he risks life and limb to cross the tracks, and the dreaded third rail, he is almost run over by the oncoming train. Just barely jumping out of the way, he sees, in the back of the train, an odd looking person who waves at him, as the train disappears into the blackness of the tunnel.

The strange visions and incidents start to concern Jacob, as he thinks there may be something wrong with his mind. Jezzie just says its weirdos and crazies in the city. He also starts to have flashbacks that seem real, of still being married to his ex-wife Sarah (Patricia Kalember), and their three kids, where Gabe is still alive. Slowly, but surely, it also looks like what happened to Jacob and his friends in Vietnam, had something to do with shady government experiments on soldiers. As he looks up old Army buddies, strange men, with stranger passengers, start to follow him.

The only solace Jacob finds is when he sees his friend and Chiropractor, Louis (Danny Aiello), who adjusts his damaged body and gives him almost spiritual advice. Louis seems to show up when Jacob is in dire need of help.
To say more, would spoil the journey this film takes you on, but it is surprising to me how simple and familiar this story is, once you reach the end. Jacob's journey is full of pain, redemption, and struggle. It is also one all must take at some point.

I love the mood this film captures, with its visuals, music, and a group of actors who get the story that they telling. I give (Robbins) credit for taking on this role, as he was mainly known for comedies like the great (Bull Durham). It reminded me a lot of (Angel Heart), I movie I adore, but this one, I must admit, aged a bit better. I am not a huge fan of Lyne's other more popular movies as much, but this one is fabulous. It is sober to be sure, But (Jacob's Ladder) is a film that asks big questions about what it means to be human,screams when we try to leave, and where we go from there.

You should see this movie


Watch the trailer: