A middle-aged flight attendant sets a plan into motion that may make her rich by double crossing her gun dealer boss and the government agents trying to catch him. He's been hired by Ordell who wants to know what she told the Feds. It seems Ordell has half a million dollars in Cabo San Lucas, and Jackie's been bringing it back bit by bit. Preteens probably won't, but teens who are fans of anyone in the cast probably will.
Likewise, teens who are enamored with director Tarantino's previous work "Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction" will probably want to see this one as well. R For strong language, some violence, drug use and sexuality. Nonetheless, he's kept the many interesting personas and the twisting plot where the characters attempt to double cross those who are trying to do the same back to them.
Much like Barry Sonnenfeld's adaption of Leonard's novel, "Get Shorty" and most of Tarantino's body of work, the emphasis is on a strong story that's inhabited by interestingly diverse characters and the dialogue they speak.
Unlike any of those movies, however, this one takes a while to get rolling. While the characters are very interesting, the plot is very slow to develop, and it's only because of the characters and the performers that inhabit them that it initially holds our interest. Most of that can be attributed to Samuel L. Jackson, who teams up with Tarantino for the second time after his Oscar nominated performance in "Pulp Fiction. Some will obviously look for comparisons between his character Jules in "Pulp," and Ordell in this one, since both are profanity spewing, involved-in-crime killers.
On the surface they're similar, but Jackson provides enough subtle nuances to each character that they come off as completely different individuals despite their similarities. It doesn't hurt that Tarantino has given Jackson the best lines in the film, and it's the character's charisma that makes you want to watch him despite his less than scrupulous behavior.
Tarantino also makes a casting coupe by putting Pam Grier in the title role. Known for her early career performances in the 's "blaxploitation" films, such as "Black Mama, White Mama" and "Scream, Blacula, Scream! Once again playing the tough, single lady, she's clearly one of this film's highlights. In this movie she may have found a role that might just resurrect her career and get her out of the "B" movies in which she's recently appeared.
Equally successful is Robert Forster whose bail bondsman character, Max Cherry, changes his ways once he meets Jackie. Having played various supporting character roles for nearly three decades, he delivers a sympathetic, yet seedy character. Less successful and extremely disappointing is Tarantino's use of the great Robert De Niro.
Reduced to playing a dimwitted caricature of the more subdued characters he every so often plays, this has to be one of the worst uses of this award winning talent. Except for one violent, somewhat pivotal scene, Tarantino could have left out his character altogether. Faring a little better, but still not great, is Bridget Fonda as an annoying, drugged up surfer girl. Her character serves its purpose during the course of the story to be an annoyance to Ordell and Louis , but Fonda isn't given much leeway in portraying her.
Michael Keaton is likeable as always, but doesn't play a character that's much different from many he's played in the past. Still, and as always, his quirky performance is fun to watch. While it sounds like the movie's a mixed bag, it fortunately gets much better as the plot progresses. For that's when the double cross elements begin to appear and most of the fun begins.
It's also the time when Tarantino gets back in step with what made "Pulp Fiction" so interesting and that's his use of nonlinear storytelling. Audiences and critics loved his last film for suddenly going backwards in time and arriving at a point midway through where we had just been. While he doesn't make as big a jump here, several smaller jumps are nearly as effective, and we get to witness a pivotal scene several times from different character's perspectives that reveals more information every time we see it.
Combined with the accelerated and newly entertaining plot, that cinematic device helps lift the film from it's rather mediocre beginning. Finishing with a fun flourish, the effect one leaves with is that the overall film is better than its individual parts. Still, it's not as good as "Pulp Fiction" or "Get Shorty," both of which were more clever and had great performances from nearly all of the cast. It's almost as if Quentin decided to tone everything down a notch, so as not to compete with his earlier, hyped up features.
Yet the strong characterizations of the leads, Tarantino's attention to smart, witty dialogue, and the stepped up last half of the film make the feature worthwhile.
We give "Jackie Brown" a 7 out of Extreme profanity, drug use, violence, and criminal behavior top the lists of objectionable material. With more than "f' and "s" words combined, the profanity is nearly nonstop, while the characters played by Fonda and De Niro smoke pot quite often.
Several people are shot and killed, but surprisingly the bloodletting is quite mild. There is one brief sex scene with movement and sounds, but no nudity. Nearly everyone in the story is involved in criminal behavior in one way or the other, and some viewers may somewhat see the movie glorifying that behavior. Since many teens will probably want to see this film, we suggest that you read through the material first to determine whether it's appropriate for them.
Another character played by Chris Tucker mentions that he's high. We often see Ordell drinking screwdrivers. Jackie and Max have drinks in a bar. Jackie drinks wine in a bar and Ordell has a screwdriver. Later, both have screwdrivers. Ordell and Louis have drinks in a bar. Ray has a beer with dinner while Jackie has wine. Ordell shoots a person and blood splatters onto the inside of a windshield.
A person who's been shot dead is just a little bloody. Obviously the criminals in this story Ordell, Louis, Jackie, etc Likewise, both Ordell and Louis kill people during the movie.
Ordell goes to visit Jackie after he's bailed her out of jail. Since he shot the last person he bailed out, the scene is somewhat tense. The final confrontation between Jackie and Ordell is just a little tense. Used to threaten or kill people. See "Violence" for details. Carried by a minor character in the trunk of a car. Seen in a TV program where bikini clad women fire a wide assortment of them.