Tuesday, April 11, 2023

But Not so Quick

Film: Jack Be Nimble
Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime at the office.

Last month, I finally caught up with Ice Cold in Alex, a film I had looked for for some time. It was a film that managed to live up to my expectations, at least in the main. This month, I found that Jack Be Nimble was streaming on Amazon. This is one of the final two movies from the original horror movie lists I posted years ago, and one that I have not been able to find for close to a decade. I’ve been looking for this movie for some time, and while I expected it to be middle of the road, I did have some hopes for it.

Suffice it to say that Jack Be Nimble did not really live up to what it could have been. For a film I’d been looking to watch for years, I could have hoped for a great deal more. This isn’t to say that this was a bad film by any stretch. It’s not; it’s just less than it could be. It definitely has a point that it wants to make, but it takes a long time getting there, and it feels like not a lot happens along the way.

We start with two children, Dora and Jack (Hannah Jessop and Sam Smith initially). We also see their mother (Brenda Simmons), who seems to be having a breakdown. It’s not incredibly obvious in the moment, but she abandons them, leaving them with their father (Gilbert Goldie). He’s not interested in raising them by himself, so off they go to an orphanage. Dora is adopted by a loving couple and Jack is adopted by a horribly abusive family and is essentially tortured. It’s also important that Dora gets attacked by another student and spends a little time in a coma, which apparently wakes up her latent psychic powers.

We doodley-doop into the future, and Dora (now played by Sarah Smuts-Kennedy) is searching for Jack (now played by Alexis Arquette). Jack, failing most of his classes, manages to excel in metalwork and creates a device that he shows his family. It hypnotizes them, and he uses this to put his parents in a position to be killed. He then sends his four adoptive sisters off to bed and leaves to look for Dora.

What follows is something that takes far longer than the plot would necessitate, and that’s my biggest issue with Jack Be Nimble. Essentially, Jack and Dora have a psychic connection, a connection that Dora shares with Teddy (Bruno Lawrence), who is her frequent sex partner despite their clear age difference. Regardless, Jack decides that he and Dora should find their actual parents. They find their mother and Jack essentially runs her off after forcing her to tell them that she hates them. They then track down their father and Jack tries to hypnotize him and force him to kill himself.

Meanwhile, Jack’s four sisters have decided to hunt him down and kill him because of the deaths of their parents. This is really where the film fails for me in the main. The sisters are shown to be essentially as terrible as their parents, so it’s not a shock that they are going to come after Jack looking for revenge. But they only show up a couple of times before the climax of the film. They are actually a real threat to him, but until the moment that they find Jack, we’re not entirely sure how they are following them. Additionally, as the main foils here, they aren’t shown enough to be really threatening.

Jack Be Nimble is a film that has a lot of ideas. It has too many ideas for what it is, to be blunt. We have Jack’s hypnotizing machine that he uses to kill people or put them in a position to be killed. We have Dora’s psychic abilities combined with those of Teddy, and there are a number of indications that Teddy is abusive. There’s also something going on with Jack’s sisters, who come across as extras from Village of the Damned. Further, it appears that Dora can hear whispers from the dead. Each of these could make a legitimate movie on its own, but we’re shoehorning all of them into a single film that runs just a bit over 90 minutes.

It's too unfocused. There are some good ideas here, but someone needed to edit out some of those plot points.

Why to watch Jack Be Nimble: Alexis Arquette does a passable Kiwi accent.
Why not to watch: It all feels undeveloped.


  1. Looking over your horror lists, if the other one you've been unable to find is The Boneyard from 1991, there's copies of it on both Ok.ru and Youtube.

    1. Yep--it's on Tubi at the moment as well, so it's likely I'll get there this week. Thanks for the lookout.

  2. I love reading your blog posts and they are so creative. I especially like your use of the Future tense. I think it's a great touch and adds a sense of mystery and curiosity. I also love that you mentioned how you finally caught up with Ice Cold In Alex. It was one of my favorite films and I was so excited to see that it was out on DVD. I was so disappointed by the lack of plot and character development which made the film feel really pointless and unfulfilling. 123 Malayalam Movies

    1. I was not aware that Ice Cold in Alex was available. That's something to look for--thanks for that!