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If you see Declan before you die, you tell him that he can't protect his women.
~ The Jackal, taunting Valentina Koslova as she dies

The Jackal is the titular main antagonist in the 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal, its 1973 film adaptation, and its 1997 remake, The Jackal. He is an assassin for hire with a fearsome reputation in the criminal underworld.

He was portrayed by Edward Fox in the 1973 film and Bruce Willis (who also portrayed Lt. Muldoon in Planet Terror and Old Joe in Looper) in the 1997 film.

Biography

Novel and 1973 film

The Jackal is hired by a far-right French terrorist group, the OAS (Organisation armée secrète) to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle because of his decision to gain independence to Algeria. He demands a total of US$500,000 as he has to quit his carrer upon completion due to massive repercussions and the payment is enough to allow him to retire in luxury. The assassin invents the codename of the Jackal after he is hired. When asked for his choice of codename in the novel, the Jackal replies: "Since we have been speaking of hunting, what about the Jackal? Will that do?".

Taking elaborate precautions, the Jackal arranges a false passport to get him into France and forges identity documents to get him close to de Gaulle. He also steals two passports as contingent identities and purchases disguises to match, killing the forger who tries to blackmail him, then hides the body ina  case where he presumes it will not be found for an indefinite amount of time. Unfortunately, France's Action Service is able to capture and interrogate one of the plotters. He also commissions a special sniper rifle, of extreme slimness, and a supply of explosive-tipped mercury bullets, from a master gunsmith.

Using OAS agent "Valmy" as a cut-out, the Jackal is kept fully informed of the French police's pursuit of him. On two occasions when the police get too close, he hides out with a wealthy woman he has seduced and a gay man he meets in a bar, respectively. He kills both of them after they outlive their usefulness.

Finally, on Liberation Day, 25 August 1963, the Jackal tries to shoot de Gaulle with a rifle he had hidden inside a steel crutch. However, the French president unexpectedly moves his head at the last moment, causing the Jackal to miss. As the Jackal prepares for a second shot, he is discovered by French police detective Claude Lebel. Jackal manages to a police officer that accompanies Lebel but as he scrambes to reload his rifle, Lebel grabs the sub-machine gun from the dead policeman and shoots him dead. The Jackal is buried two days later in an unmarked grave; only Lebel attends, anonymously. The death certificate identifies him as "an unknown foreign tourist, killed in a car accident". No one ever knows who exactly the Jackal really is.

1997 film

The 1997 film The Jackal substantially revises the character; in this version, he is a former US soldier and feared underworld assassin hired by Murad, an Azerbaijani mobster to kill the First Lady of the United States in retaliation of the death of his brother, Ghazzi during a joint FBI-MVD operation to arrest him for killing Nikolai Semankho, an MVD Major. The Jackal charges $70 million, half up front and half on completion, for the hit as he needs to vanish from the face of the public forever after this job since the US government would hunt him down at the end of the earth. In order to find him, the FBI recruits the Jackal's old nemesis, an Irish Republican Army sniper named Declan Mulqueen, in exchange for his freedom. Mulqueen had once had a relationship with a Basque Separatist named Isabella Zancona, and the two of them had met the Jackal years earlier. The Jackal had shot Isabella, and although she survived, this caused her to miscarry Mulqueen's child. Zancona describes the Jackal as a sociopath: "This man was ice, no feeling, nothing."

In preparation for the hit, the Jackal purchases a long-range heavy machine gun/ cannon weapons system from a weapons dealer named Ian Lamont, and kills him with his own weapon when he asks for too much money. He then seduces a gay politician and kills him in order to steal his security clearance pass. Finally, he attacks Mulqueen's security detail, killing FBI agents Witherspoon and McMurphy and mortally wounding MVD agent Valentina Koslova. The Jackal taunts Koslova as she bleeds to death, telling her to tell Mulqueen that "he can't protect his women". Koslova passes this to Mulqueen before she perishes, allowing him to take treble precautions.

The Jackal disguises himself as a policeman during the First Lady's speech and mounts the gatling gun in a van, planning to fire it by remote control. In a joint attempt to stop him, Carter Preston, Deputy FBI Director, shoves the First Lady to the ground just before the weapon opens fire and Mulqueen destroys the weapon with a sniper rifle. The assassin escapes into the subway, with Mulqueen giving chase and wounding him.

The Jackal grabs a young girl at the station and holds her hostage, threatening to kill her if Mulqueen doesn't drop his gun. Mulqueen surrenders his weapon to save the girl, and the Jackal prepares to execute him. Right at that moment, however, Zancona appears and shoots the Jackal in the neck. The Jackal survives, however, and reaches for his weapon to kill Mulqueen, who draws first and shoots him dead. The Jackal is then buried in an unmarked grave, with only Mulqueen and Deputy FBI Director Carter Preston as witnesses.

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