Greetings and salutations all.
We continue our series on the films of Quentin Tarantino with his third outing, the 1997 crime thriller Jackie Brown. The movie was written and directed by him and was adapted from Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch, his only adaptation to date. It is the story of the eponymous flight attendant (Pam Grier) who becomes embroiled with a gun runner named Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
#1 Quentin is that you?
After watching Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction viewing Jackie Brown for the first time was quite the shift. The first two are non-linear stories told in chapter form with shifting protagonists and plots heavy on the violence. Jackie, however, is told in a linear fashion for the most part, Grier’s character is the protagonist throughout and there is not an abundance of bloody violence.
But the differences in this case are not a bad thing. Jackie Brown still tells a solid story with interesting, layered characters. The dialogue is good, especially from Jackson, though not as quotable as Tarantino’s previous efforts. The shot choices are also more traditional than what the director had done before. If you are looking for typical Tarantino here you may be disappointed but take the movie on its own merit and you will enjoy it.
#2 Stellar Cast
The performances in this film are tremendous. Grier, who made a name for herself in the 70s making blaxploitation films, is fantastic as the assertive but world weary Jackie. And man does she look beautiful. That black did not crack one bit. She has sizzling chemistry with Robert Forster as stoic bail bondsman Max Cherry; he got an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor for his efforts.
It was interesting seeing Robert De Niro play understated henchman Louis Gara as I am accustomed to seeing him in more commanding roles. Bridget Fonda also has a great turn as junkie “surfer girl” Mel and Michael Keaton is solid as ATF agent Ray Nicolette. Even Chris Tucker shows up though thankfully not for very long.
But my best performance in the movie was from Jackson. He is cool, slick, egotistical and dangerous. And as mentioned above he has some of the best lines in the entire film. The amusing early scene where he is talking about guns with De Niro’s Louis spells out the character from the get go. Both Jackson and Grier received Golden Globe Award nominations for Jackie Brown and it definitely well earned.
#3 Thrilling Climax
The movie is a bit of a slow burn but when it heats up it boils over. The tension in the climax is thick enough to cut with a chainsaw and we have multiple perspectives, another Tarantino trademark.
There are a couple of twists and blood splattering deaths, another Tarantino-ism, before the conclusion which was not shocking but satisfying. Jackie Brown may not be my favorite from the maverick writer/director but it is a well made crime thriller that is worth checking out.
Rating: Jackie Brown gets 3.5/4 double crosses.
So have you seen Jackie Brown? What did you think of it? Feel free to comment below.