Jackie Brown (1997)

reviewed by
David Sunga

Jackie Brown (1997)
Rating: 2.5 stars  (out of 4.0)
Key to rating system:
2.0  stars         Debatable
2.5 stars        Some people may like it
3.0 stars        I liked it
3.5 stars        I am biased in favor of the movie
4.0  stars        I felt the movie's impact personally or it stood out
A Movie Review by David Sunga
Directed by:
Quentin Tarantino
Written by: 
Quentin Tarantino, from a book by Elmore Leonard. 
Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael
Smart stewardess, honest boyfriend, despicable gunrunner and henchmen,
federal agents

Synopsis: Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) - - an impoverished stewardess for a dumpy airline - - makes money on the side by smuggling cash from Mexican buyers to LA gunrunner Ordell (Samuel Jackson). She is caught smuggling by Ray (Michael Keaton) - - an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Now the ATF wants Jackie to testify against gunrunner Ordell, and Ordell wants Jackie very dead. Jackie tells Ordell she'll fool the ATF and smuggle him half a million dollars from Mexico. She tells the ATF she'll fool Ordell and they can catch him in the act of receiving fifty thousand smuggled dollars. Her real plan is to have the ATF arrest Ordell, and then pocket Ordell's half million dollars herself through an elaborate ruse involving a shopping mall dressing room - - so that she can finally live happily ever after with her boyfriend Max (Robert Forster). Will Jackie's scam succeed?

Opinion: JACKIE BROWN is fairly enjoyable but two things bug me. First, it takes a whole hour for the movie to explain and set up the initial situation. After that, there is nothing left for the audience to figure out for the next hour and thirty minutes. Once Jackie reveals her plan to Max in the beginning of the movie, it seems the whole caper goes off predictably without a hitch, twist, surprise, or problem. It's just a matter of seeing the mechanics of the thing, and one scene is shown three times (through the eyes of three different characters) to make sure we understand how the money is switched. Still, it is kind of nostalgic hearing the 70s soundtrack and seeing action gal icon Pam Grier get tough on crime like the good old days. Of course, Tarantino throws in some side characters with flippant, slang dialogue.

Director: Director Quentin Tarantino is a master at elevating old B-grade movie stuff to the status of A-grade retro. Like Woody Allen, he always gives us amusing neurotic characters with hip dialogue. The difference is, Tarantino's neurotic characters are always TV trivia savvy, and his bad guys are likely to be violent. Sometimes Tarantino's movies seem to be a collage of scenes or vignettes put together into a film mosaic. Personally I would love to see Tarantino direct a sequel for the JAMES BOND or SCREAM movie series because of Tarantino's talent for mixing homage with edge. The Bond movie could pay homage to previous Bond movies, while SCREAM 3 could add action to the horror whodunit series by being about kung fu video trivia fans being stalked by a masked karate killer.

Reviewed by David Sunga
December 29, 1997

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