Jackie Brown Review – Tarantino’s Most Romantic Film Is A Chilling Classic | Movies
QUentin Tarantino’s third film is now relaunched in cinemas for its 25th anniversary, an incredibly stylish and thrilling adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 crime thriller Rum Punch. It’s a quasi-blaxploitation homage featuring a glorious central performance by Pam Grier as Jackie, the tough flight attendant who imports profits from US arms sales into her tote bag.
Brown thinks she can keep all the money by outmaneuvering her ruthlessly abusive associate Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson), whose gruesome criminal court includes ex-cellmate Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) and the girlfriend of the space cadets Melanie (Bridget Fonda), and also law enforcement (in the form of Michael Keaton and Michael Bowen) who she pretends to work with undercover. But she finds herself meeting the equally tough, self-deprecating and gallant Max Cherry, a fine performance by Robert Forster as a bail bondsman who falls deeply in love with Jackie.
It’s Tarantino’s most conventional film, his only adaptation in fact, and his most human and romantic: he gives Grier and Forster one of the greatest screen kisses in history. His use of Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street at the beginning and end of the film makes me levitate in happiness every time. Jackie Brown is often ostentatiously hailed as Tarantino’s best film by people who are not Tarantino fans at heart, this praise signaling a disapproval of the distinctive, delirious meth stimuli of other Tarantino films: the consciousness of self of pop culture, comically insane ultraviolence. , the brilliance of irony and studied immaturity, and the more unstructured narrative procedure, chapter by chapter. Jackie Brown does none of that, though there is certainly some violence, a big POV car trunk opening scene, and a classic Tarantino-esque sequence in which Ordell, having nothing else to do in his day that hang around and praise guns, lyrical lyrics about some type of assault rifle. Maybe posterity will crown Jackie Brown as his best film and maybe not. Either way, it shows that mainstream intrigue and dark romance are yet more styles of film Tarantino can craft: brilliantly.
These ultimate survivors and warriors, Grier and Jackson, are both explosive, so much so that it’s easy to forget how great the support turns are, too. De Niro gave an excellent performance, a late-career gem, as the rare beta-male among his cast of tough characters; Louis is the second stringer who is entirely subordinate to Jackson’s extremely tough Ordell, the nervous, troubled incompetent who is out of his depth and is ultimately brutally executed by his former prison buddy: “Your ass was fine.” Fonda is chillingly good as Melanie, who doesn’t like having to get up to answer Ordell’s (landline) phone, and of course Forster gives a wonderful portrayal of that rarest and most old-fashioned film attribute: the virility. He’s as tough as anyone else on screen, without being violently infatuated; his professionalism and control are what govern his attitude, giving him more in common with Jackie than the sinister Ordell, as Jackie is about to battle exploitation.
This is a very cold liquid nitrogen classic from Tarantino and a magnificent performance from Grier.