New York Times - 11/02/1990
"...A slick, riveting, viscerally scary film....Played with disarming ease and sharp, frightening urgency by [Robbins]..."
Adrian Lyne's JACOB'S LADDER moves in time and space between Vietnam and New York with hallucinatory force. Something bad happened on the Mekong Delta, on October 6, 1971, and it is still affecting war veteran Jacob (Tim Robbins) in Brooklyn as he attempts to live a normal life with coworker and girlfriend Jezzie (Elizabeth Peņa). Louis (Danny Aiello), an understanding chiropractor, tries to help him cope with his nightmarish visions--some of which occur at night, while others intrude into his daily life. When Jacob gets a call from Paul (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who was with him in Vietnam, it seems that Jacob is not alone in his visions. The film offers impressive and compelling performances by Peņa, Aiello (no ordinary chiropractor), and Ving Rhames and Eriq La Salle (the latter of ER) as Jacob's comrades from Vietnam. Macaulay Culkin appears uncredited as Jacob's young son, Gabe. Director Lyne also guides an unerring interpretation of Bruce Joel Rubin's screenplay in Robbins's powerfully restless, searingly searching performance as Jacob; brilliant editing additionally rounds out this engrossing, disturbing film. JACOB'S LADDER is a jolting experience that is not easily forgotten.
Vietnam War veteran Jacob Singer, now at home in New York City, teeters on the edge of psychological collapse as he nurses the emotional scars of his combat experience, and feelings of guilt surrounding personal tragedies in his stateside family life. However, when he begins suffering from intense, hellish hallucinations and near-accidents, he questions whether his torment is actually in his mind, or the result of clandestine experiments performed on Army grunts such as himself. A complex, twisted story that wrings rich performances from its leads, leaving the viewer exhausted and mystified, yet completely involved every step of the way.
Bruce Joel Rubin began writing JACOB'S LADDER in the fall of 1980 and finished a year later. His script bounced around Hollywood from one director to another; in 1984 it was listed in AMERICAN FILM as one of the ten best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Eventually, when Lindsay Doran became a vice president at Paramount Pictures, the studio purchased it.
JACOB'S LADDER was filmed entirely on location in New York and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.