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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 27.1%
Average: 14.84%
Pretty Bad: 9.68%
Total Crap: 0.65%

9 reviews, 101 user ratings

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Jackie Brown
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Smooth and entertaining; for some reason, nobody went to see it."
5 stars

If there absolutely has to be another movie about guns and stolen money, it might as well be drawn from the work of the master -- Elmore Leonard, whose novel 'Rum Punch' is the basis for 'Jackie Brown,' the long-awaited new film by Quentin Tarantino.

How is it as a follow-up to the hallowed Pulp Fiction? Don't think of it as that. Consider it a superb Elmore Leonard adaptation by a filmmaker who knows how to serve someone else's material while making it his own. Neither a razor-sharp black comedy like Reservoir Dogs nor a pop-culture encyclopedia like Pulp, this is something new for Tarantino: a leisurely and compassionate character study in which the guns and stolen money seem almost incidental.

Despite the central presence of Tarantino favorite Pam Grier and the blaxploitation tone of the ads, this isn't the Quentin-a-go-go vanity project some of us feared it would be. Tarantino, it turns out, has done for Grier what he did for John Travolta in Pulp: pluck a good actor out of obscurity and restore his/her dignity. As Jackie Brown, a 44-year-old flight attendant for a last-resort airline, Grier is earthy, funny, smart, and often touching. Here, finally, is a Tarantino woman who offers more than just diversion or danger for a Tarantino male (even if she began life as an Elmore Leonard woman named Jackie Burke). Grier eagerly rises to the challenge of a complex role; she takes the screen like a lioness.

Jackie is running money for a gun dealer named Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), a ruthlessly pragmatic criminal with an efficient way of dealing with employees who've been nabbed by the cops: he bails them out and then kills them (so they won't rat on him). When Jackie herself is arrested by two feds (Michael Keaton and Michael Bowen), she knows her options: go to jail for a year and start her life over at 45, or end her life in a car trunk. There's also a third option, brilliantly laid out by Leonard in the novel and faithfully followed by Tarantino. It involves Jackie's bail bondsman, the weary Max Cherry (Robert Forster in an authoritative comeback performance that equals Grier's), and an elaborate scam that Tarantino, in a nod to The Killing, shows us three times from various viewpoints.

Although not an actor (he stays behind the camera this time, thank God), Tarantino is indisputably an actor's director. Not merely a rehash of Pulp Fiction's Jules, Samuel L. Jackson's Ordell is a calculating sociopath with a short fuse. Jackson makes Ordell quietly deadly where Jules was oratorical (Ordell wouldn't waste time quoting Ezekiel 25:17). Ordell's flunky Louis, just out of prison, is played by Robert De Niro in his subtlest, funniest performance in years. At first glance a harmless, run-down stoner (he gets high constantly with Ordell's girlfriend Melanie, played by a hilariously lackadaisical Bridget Fonda), Louis eventually reveals his own short fuse. When De Niro gives the ditzy Fonda a long, silent, furious stare, he's scarier in that one moment than he is in all of Cape Fear.

By now, Tarantino has gone through so many shifts in public perception (he's a genius, he's an overexposed geek, he's a one-hit wonder) that Jackie Brown is bound to disappoint some people who want to be disappointed -- who want Tarantino to take a dive in a big way, and shut up and go away. Jackie Brown proves he's not going anywhere except further in his career. The movie is nimble and more quietly funny than Tarantino's other work (it may benefit from a second viewing). Even if it's not "original" (and, really, what Tarantino film is truly original?), it's the ideal match of author and director; Tarantino is the first filmmaker to get Elmore Leonard on the screen, and not just Leonard's plot and zesty dialogue. Get Shorty got his plot and dialogue but missed his spirit. Tarantino, who once got busted for shoplifting a Leonard paperback, understands and loves Leonard's marginal losers, grungy milieu, and decent people trying to keep their heads above water. Pulp Fiction, after all, was the best Elmore Leonard novel Leonard never wrote.

Jackie Brown continues and expands Tarantino's basic ongoing theme (actions have consequences), and its black comedy is leavened by a new, more humane outlook. The abrupt sick humor of the past ("I just shot Marvin in the face") is gone, replaced by genuine shock. Only four people get whacked in Jackie Brown, but their deaths have weight.

Tarantino is maturing, and the sensibility of this film is miles away from the bouncy sadism of 'Reservoir Dogs.' With 'Jackie Brown,' Tarantino restores his own dignity and his status as an artist to watch.

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originally posted: 01/18/07 14:54:07
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User Comments

3/02/21 morris campbell 2 long but solid 4 stars
6/16/13 Mr Right Blends crime thriller, black comedy & wistful romance -- and succeeds wildly at all 3 5 stars
12/21/11 John Habig Everybody is great in this but Pam is still the sexiest badass even in her 40s 5 stars
6/11/10 Flathead King The films benefits from Tarantino taking a more mature approach to his filmmaking. 3 stars
8/28/09 Jeff Wilder Superb. 5 stars
3/28/07 fools♫gold Like (superior) "Chinatown",the rest of the movie makes up for its rather unfulfilling end. 5 stars
12/27/06 Agent Sands Those who've overlooked it, buried in the hype of Q's others, you're really missing out. 5 stars
9/29/06 Leslie Stone A must-see love story with superb plot and character development. 5 stars
6/19/06 Indrid Cold Can somebody explain why Tarantino is supposed to be such a genius? 3 stars
2/13/06 Eden Tarantino's most complex, mature film. Probably his best 5 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands Elmore Leonard is actually my favorite author, and this is his second greatest adaptation 5 stars
9/21/05 Jonathon Holmes another great Tarintino movie 5 stars
8/25/05 Eden Slow but excellent characters and direction. Tarantinos best but most underated 5 stars
7/21/05 Brandy Harrington Okay... 3 stars
7/07/05 Isaac Baranoff Quentin Tarantino + Elmore Leonard = GOLD! 5 stars
6/12/05 DM Slow at times, but proof that Forster and Grier are both very talented. 4 stars
6/04/05 Denise Gannon say what you will about QT, but there' hes a master @ character direction 5 stars
5/30/05 Jake A Delicious Crime drama from Quentin Tarentino 5 stars
4/20/05 Chris Stephens Way to long 3 stars
4/16/05 Linda Denisen I enjoyed this movie but dodn't "just Love it". 3 stars
4/08/05 Lina Correa Great Ride of a movie, lots of action and well developed characters 4 stars
4/05/05 killbill03 Amazing. Slower paced and wonderfully directed 5 stars
3/31/05 hannaho One of Tarantino's best films. 5 stars
2/17/05 C Vega not tarantino's best but still good 4 stars
2/13/05 romeo not that good but still alrite so yeah 5 stars
2/07/05 Danielle R. Tarantino's best film. An underrated masterpiece. 5 stars
2/06/05 Tom Benton Though it's one of Tarantino's lesser achievements, it's in no way a bad film ... 4 stars
12/06/04 John Bale Although long strong characters and clever plot twists make this very entertaining. 5 stars
10/24/04 ODH Boring. Big letdown, big waste of time... 1 stars
10/22/04 Daniel good but was destined to be called a lesser film than pulp fiction, 'pulp' was just amazing 4 stars
9/27/04 Smitty It's not Pulp Fiction - it's better. Perfectly cast and played deliciously slow. 5 stars
9/18/04 R.W. Welch Overlong but well played caper pic. Forster & Jackson right on. 4 stars
5/24/04 Peter Understated, easy-paced, great dialogue 4 stars
5/24/04 Butterbean A slick, but mild mannered Tarrantino that still delivers interesting storytelling. 4 stars
5/18/04 Jack Sommersby Smart and endearing. Tarantino's best film, and a showcase for the magnificent Forster. 4 stars
5/18/04 y2mckay Meanders for quite a while, but comes together nicely in the end 4 stars
4/28/04 sean Awesome soundtrack, story, characters, and comedy. 5 stars
4/06/04 Miss Julie I don't know who I wanted to make out with more, Grier or Forster. Great flick. 5 stars
1/24/04 CC Amazing 5 stars
12/15/03 Phil M. Aficionado Strong yet breezy; 4.5 but round it up for Pam Grier and Robt Forster performances 5 stars
11/15/03 Ultron Easily as good as Pulp Fiction 5 stars
11/05/03 ND not hardcore as RD or PF, but still awesome casting and plot 4 stars
10/24/03 Curious George Decent 4 stars
10/14/03 Hank Your reviewers got it wrong; this flick is about Jacky, nothing else. 5 stars
9/23/03 Jon Lyrik Excruciatingly boring and stiff. Like looking at a rock for 2 1/2 hours. 2 stars
9/18/03 Samuel Justus i love Tarintiono's twists and Turns!! Fucking Brilliant! 5 stars
8/30/03 Peace Frog Bridget Fonda is hottest than three hells! I would have lasted longer than 3 fuckin' min.! 5 stars
5/25/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng My favorite Tarantino movie. I love the theme song, "Across 110th Street". Wicked movie. 5 stars
5/24/03 Andrew Carden Flawless Masterpiece; Grier Gives A One-Of-A-Kind Performance. 5 stars
5/17/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) Not as good as Dogs, Pulp, and Romance, but it's a great great story & great soundtrack. 4 stars
4/03/03 dave you call yourself a critic ? it was awsome! 5 stars
1/27/03 alex another one of Tarantinos classic movie landmarks 5 stars
12/29/02 Jack Sommersby Tarantino's best. Forster is extraordinary! 4 stars
11/28/02 Zack W. Young Tarantino directing Bridget Fonda, Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, and Sammy. 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Good cast in a bloated, heavy film 4 stars
9/26/02 Morally Sound I loved this movie. The music fits like a glove. Awesome. 5 stars
9/04/02 Joe Zappa Hip, diverting, and funny. 4 stars
8/10/02 Film Guy The acting is spectacular. The Directing is Spectacular. but that doesnt make a movie 3 stars
8/08/02 I Can't Swim Excellent in all respects but Grier & Forster reach for the stars & obtain them 5 stars
7/21/02 Croweater A very good film, I liked it a lot.Great acting,scripting,direction. 5 stars
4/10/02 70's Love I love how Tarantino used the same music that was used in Grier's Foxy Brown and Coffy 4 stars
2/09/02 Jay Fox I love this film. Quentin Tarantino's dialogue and direction are genius along with Leonards 5 stars
1/15/02 Murray Castles Very good film. The entire cast was great. 4 stars
11/18/01 Gary Entertaining if overlong. Grier is excellent & there's great support from Fonda and Forster 3 stars
11/16/01 John Greer and Forester deserved nominations. 5 stars
10/25/01 Henry Ginsberg not as good as pulp fiction,but still brilliant 5 stars
9/06/01 spaceworm Clearly the third place Tarentino, still... 5 stars
9/01/01 Butterbean Why don't someone give Jackson an Oscar? Great performances all around, but mediocre movie 3 stars
8/10/01 E-Funk Tarantino's return is more than welcomed. A cool adaptation of the book. 5 stars
8/07/01 Joe Zappa Elmore Leonard's an idiot, but the movie's great. 5 stars
4/20/01 James Brilliant 5 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L Totally overrated movie. Not Quentin's best... 2 stars
3/16/01 Elvisfan Is that Rutger Hauer? No, its Helmut Berger. 5 stars
3/08/01 Sanja FUCKING AWESOME!! 5 stars
2/16/01 Jake I enjoyed it. Jackson was phat! 4 stars
12/30/00 Gerald F. Judd Mutherfuckin' Great! 5 stars
11/25/00 The Evil Penguin Pulp Fiction meets its partner, Jackie Brown 4 stars
11/01/00 Buffalo I may have liked it more than Pulp Fiction. Nah, maybe not; but it was a damn good film. 5 stars
5/26/00 Bruce It more than holds it's own against "Pulp Fiction" 5 stars
4/29/00 markus great! 5 stars
4/22/00 JonnyAngel Hmmmm... 3 stars
4/12/00 the Grinch Understated and very engrossing movie. Too bad some people wanted Pulp Fiction 2: Pulpier 5 stars
2/21/00 Kyle Broflovski Great script and hip, juicy characters. Damn good movie, motherfuckers!!! 5 stars
11/04/99 Karahde Khan Not as good as Pulp Fiction, but almost. Maybe QT's most mature film. 5 stars
10/30/99 Bozo "no, its Helmut Berger" 5 stars
9/29/99 Glitter Berry Forster was great, Grier was great, plot a bit weak for Q.T. 4 stars
8/20/99 Japtalian AK-47, when you absolutely, positively wanna kill every motherfucker in the room. 5 stars
8/04/99 Dax Not Tarantino's best (Pulp Fiction), but still a damn good film. 4 stars
8/04/99 Ed Wood much better the second time around 4 stars
6/15/99 Dylan This film is so under-rated. This is easily as good as Reservoir Dogs. 5 stars
6/15/99 Ver-Jun Tarantino revives the blaxploitation genre. Christmas has come early. 5 stars
4/13/99 Jon Jackson I really wanted this movie to kick ass, but it just tickled ass. 3 stars
2/18/99 Bishop I'll kill him n' 10 other niggaz look just like him. 4 stars
2/09/99 Gary I liked the plot even though you knew where it was leading. MF'n good movie. 4 stars
2/02/99 Vick Di Brecci Very good, underrated despite showing Tarantino's increased range. 4 stars
10/29/98 Silent Rob QT taking his time to infuse life into someone elses words. It worked for me. 4 stars
9/09/98 Bruce Willis' mama. Could have been better. Dragged on but mostly enjoyable. 4 stars
9/04/98 Badass A masterpiece! Tarantino proves he is very versital. A somber, desperate and smart movie. 5 stars
8/16/98 J-Guy too long. too boring. the time fucking was cool. 3 stars
8/14/98 {{{OZ}}} 70's production values in a Pulp Fiction suit. My buddie walked out. 2 stars
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  25-Dec-1997 (R)
  DVD: 10-Aug-2004

  20-Mar-1998 (18)

  05-Mar-1998 (MA)

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