Careers in Hollywood are not unlike ocean tides. If you're in the business long enough it's inevitable that the ebb and flow of the system is going to result in measurable highs and lows. And if, for whatever reason, the heavens remain unaligned for back-to-back low-tide films, people begin to assume a pattern is at play. So it's understandable that You Don't Know Jack is an easy film to be wary of. It's a made for TV movie (HBO, despite their one-time motto of "It's not TV.", is indeed still TV) directed by Barry Levinson, a director whose once-wonderful career has been marred of late by a few true stinkers. And it stars Al Pacino, a man whose performances of late have seemingly become impersonations of Al Pacino impersonations, as America's most controversial proponent of assisted suicide, Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
Yet even with all those potential portents of an incoming low tide, You Don't Know Jack is a surging triumph for all involved. This isn't Man of the Year or Envy Barry Levinson, this is Good Morning, Vietnam and Rain Man Levinson. This isn't Righteous Kill or 88 Minutes Pacino, either. In fact, predictable Pacino is entirely absent here, leaving room in its wake for a career high performance that is barely recognizable as the loose cannon presence that audiences have come to expect from the star. And despite its extremely sensitive subject matter, Breach screenwriter Adam Mazer's script is a markedly objective look at the divisive medical figure.