"Jackie Brown" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
There is something about the characters and the way they interact with one another in "Jackie Brown" that you don't want the movie to end when the credits roll. All of them are smart and conniving, unlike other films in this genre where there is at least one stupid character the other characters screw over. Everybody in this movie is on top of their game and know what they need to succeed, but it's only the smartest that will make it out with the ultimate prize. In perhaps Quentin Tarantino's most underrated and one of his smartest films, he delivers his take on the blaxploitation genre with amazing performances by the entire cast and great screenplay based off of Elmore Leonard's novel, "Rum Punch".
Our titular protagonist (Pam Grier) is shown to be a normal flight attendant for a sketchy airline in Los Angeles. However, when she is approached by police officer Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton), not only do they find a huge bag of cash, but a small bag of cocaine as well, prompting them to arrest and book her. When her boss, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) finds out that she has been arrested and booked, he goes through bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) to bail her out.
When Ordell threatens to kill Jackie so she won't rat him out to the feds, she makes a deal with him that she will bring him his half a million dollars from Mexico to show her loyalty to him. However, at the same time, she is double-crossing him by working with the feds so her name will be clear from all wrongdoing. At the same time, she is also double-crossing the feds by working with Max, as they have fallen in love and want to run away with one another.
This movie not only revitalized Grier and Forster's careers, but also contained fantastic performances by Robert De Niro as Louis and Jackson, who is coming off his success from Tarantino's previous film, "Pulp Fiction". Jackson, especially, is fully able to embody this role perfectly, giving a great performance as Ordell. When watching this film, it's easy to forget that Jackson is on-screen and all we see is this crime boss on the screen. It is a huge change compared to his other character from Tarantino's second film, and it's honesty really interesting to see how is he fully able to embody every role he plays.
Tarantino has mentioned several times in interviews that he went to lots of Black movie theaters to see many Blaxploitation films, and that it changed his perspective and outlook on film. You can definitely see the influence those films had on Tarantino, and I think he presented a great film that shows his love and appreciation for the genre. It's rare to see a White director making a film like this, but I think he did it perfectly and it shows how he fully understands the role this genre plays in the movie industry. This movie features many different elements of this genre, such as the 70's African-American music and the badass female protagonist in the crime business.
The story is excellent, and Tarantino pens this fantastic screenplay that is able to bring the viewer in and hooks them till the final credit rolls. He crafts this beautiful dialogue that has also been present in his previous two films. It tells the story of all of our characters in a nicely paced way and is excellent at crafting and exploring these characters and their journey throughout the events of this movie. I personally love the way he crafts the last hour of the film, which details the heist that is taking place. It follows the perspective of Jackie, Louis, and Max all at different times, showing how each character perceives the event and how they screwed the other one over. It shows how masterful of a filmmaker Tarantino is, and he is fully able to understand the complexity of human nature.
This is definitely Tarantino's most underrated movie, and it shouldn't be. This movie is able to perfectly show that Tarantino isn't a one-hit wonder, and how much he loves and appreciates film. He once said that if you truly love film with all your heart, there is no way that you cannot make a good film, and that is perfectly shown throughout the making of his first three movies. He definitely is one of the best filmmakers of all time, and he keeps proving that time and time again.