Quentin Tarantino finally has rolled around to directing another feature film after hitting the big time with Pulp Fiction. This time around he is adapting the Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch (with a couple of significant character changes), rechristened Jackie Brown.
Samuel L. Jackson stars as Ordell Robbie, a wicked gun dealer. His associates are rather colorful characters. There’s Melanie (Bridget Fonda), his drug-happy surf bunny girlfriend. Beaumont (Chris Tucker) is a fast talking but jail-phobic associate of Robbie’s. Louis Gara (Robert DeNiro) is an aging bank robber, recently out of jail, who comes into Robbie’s employ. And then there’s Jackie Brown.
Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant who, on the side, runs money for Ordell. However, during one of her money runs, she is apprehended by an ATF agent (Michael Keaton), who wants nothing better than to lock Robbie away for life…and he’s perfectly willing to use Jackie as bait.
However, Jackie has other plans. She enlists the aid of a sympathetic bail bondsman, Max Cherry (Robert Forster), to run a scam pitting the feds vs. the murderous Robbie. But will she manage both to stay alive and out of jail???
There is only one shocking twist in Jackie Brown (surprising, considering that the twists were some of the high points in his previous films.) In fact, the storyline is mostly straightforward. The film actually drags on a bit too long, and several of the scenes could have easily been shortened.
The highlight of Jackie Brown is the dialogue, which is colorful and funny. However, the film lacks any of the standout dialogue scenes that have highlighted Tarantino’s previous films (such as the “Like a Virgin” spiel in Reservior Dogs, or the “Royale With Cheese” conversation in Pulp Fiction.)
Pam Grier gives a good performance in the title role. However, it’s a mere shell of a character…particularly for a title role. We know very little about her, other than the fact that she’s desperate and clever.
Tarantino’s third full length directoral effort is a good film, but the worst of the three. Still, considering what he had to live up to, it’s not a bad effort.