out of 4
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Review by David Wilcock
2 stars out of 4
Before starting, I'll get the obvious out of the way first. Jackie Brown is
not as good as Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction. Right, now I'll get to
reviewing the film on it's own (without comparing to Tarantinos previous
films) Jackie Brown, based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard, is the
story of an air stewardess, called Jackie Brown (Grier) who has the chance
to sneak off with $1 million dollars. To do this, she must enlist the help
of bondsman Max Cherry (Forster), and try to fool Ordell (Jackson), an arms
dealer who kills anyone he thinks will blab to the police (including Grier)
and dopeheads Melanie and Louis (Fonda and De Niro) who plan to steal Griers
money. Along the way, she must also use the help of cop Ray Nicloet (Keaton)
who wants to take Ordell down.
Throughout the plot is Tarantino typically good dialogue, and some good
performances from Grier, Fonda and Forster. Tarantino has written another
good script, but it seems more restrained because he is working from a
novel. Somehow, the script never reaches the dizzy heights of Pulp Fiction
(1994), which is a shame. Tarantino is a great scriptwriter, but not such a
great adapter. He needs more creative freedom. Hopefully, he won't adapt
another book after this movie. I have not read the novel Rum Punch, so I
don't know how close the characters are to to the book, but the performances
were all pretty good. Grier, a former blaxploitation star and seen recently
in Mars Attacks! (1996) is good as Jackie Brown, delivering a suitably 'hard
ass' image (although it's difficult to believe she could be an air
stewardess.) Jackson is practically repeating his role as Jules in Pulp
Fiction, which is a shame. His character isn't very interesting, but he is
funny, and he has some of the best one liners in the movie. Fonda is superb,
and very sexy, as dopehead Melanie, but she hardly features in the film. De
Niro, like in Copland (1997), is seemingly on auto pilot. Forster is
excellent as the burnt out Max, with a suitably gravely voice, and some good
acting. The audience relates to his character the most.
However, the audience just doesn't really relate (with the possible
exception of Jackson and Grier) to the other characters. Most of them are
flat and two dimensional. This is a shame, and all the characters have
potential which is never fully developed. Considering the running time, a
little bit more effort could have been based on reinforcing the characters.
Also, Tarantino seems to be directing on autopilot. Apart from some split
screen and a generally good final 30 minutes, the direction is plodding, and
nowhere near as good as (sigh) Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction.
There's a good soundtrack, however, and the dialogue can get good.
Jackie Brown, overall, is good, entertaining, and never really gets boring.
However, I guess I just came into the cinema expecting more, and the film
never really delivers. Although disappointing compared to Reservoir Dogs and
Pulp Fiction, on it's own, Jackie Brown is an above average crime thriller.
Copyright © 1997 David Wilcock
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