Jumpin’ Jack Flash Movie Review: October ‘86

Was it a gas, gas, gas? Or just (B-) flat? Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a light-hearted tale of espionage.

By Manchester's Finest | 21 November 2012

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Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a light-hearted tale of espionage, secret agents and a bored office worker (Whoopi Goldberg) who’s good with computers.

I say “computers”. In 1986, they were so primitive, they made a leaking biro and a scrap of paper look like a 6G phone (that’s a thing, right?). But, had the technology been more advanced than a Nokia 3210 with a clip-on cover of East 17, the movie couldn’t have happened. Or it could. But it would have been Enemy Of The State. A decent film, but sadly with fewer scenes of sequinned dresses getting caught in paper shredders, wigs being torn off and blokes being hit over the head with a frying pan. Jumpin’ Jack Flash is part-thriller, part-silly. Credible slapstick, if you will.

Jack (Jonathon Pryce) is a British spy in grave danger who accidently taps into the work computer of Whoopi Goldberg’s character Terri. And in doing so, accidently draws her into his murky world. There are two strange things about him being British. One, he’s British and a leading man in the 80s. And two, he isn’t the bad guy. So, after stumbling upon Terri via online chat that looks a lot like the prototype for Ceefax, she agrees to help him out of his sticky situation — despite having never actually met him.


At its heart is a blind love story of sorts as Jack and Terri start to genuinely care about each other amid shootings, secret codes and spies. As one of the first movies to use online communications as part of the plot, Jumpin’ Jack Flash was actually a forerunner of sorts. But it’s more bemusing than Bond (assuming the next Bond movie doesn’t involve Daniel Craig singing karaoke to The Rolling Stones in bunny slippers).

Of course, Whoopi’s doing the Whoopi thing. The main differences between her characters in Ghost, Sister Act and Jumpin’ Jack Flash being the volume of her hair. So, if you’re a fan of her style, you can expect that famously huge grin that looks uncannily like Jim Carrey’s Mask, and plenty of Goldberg telling it like it is. (I kind of want to use the word ‘sassy’ but somehow feel I’m being a bit racist.) And that’s what it comes down to (liking Whoopi, not having questionable views). Like her and you’ll like the movie.

It’s hardly a cerebral intellect-fest, but if you’re looking for slightly more specs, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll than your standard comedy (not to mention 80s shoulder pads and plot), Jumpin’ Jack Flash is definitely worth a watch.

Gemma Wildgoose (@gemwildgoose)