Best Movies of All Time + Samuel L Jackson



"Half a million dollars will always be missed."

-- Max Cherry
Jackie Brown is a 1997 crime drama written and directed by Quentin Tarantino that served as the follow-up to his 1994 smash hit, Pulp Fiction. When flight attendant Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is stopped by A.T.F. detectives Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen), they desperately try to press her for information regarding a small arms dealer named Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), for whom she traffics money. Initially, she gives them nothing in terms of intel, and the two men ensure she's imprisoned. Ordell posts her bail, and after meeting with her, the two devise a plan that will allow her to bring the rest of his money - over half a million dollars - back into the country from Mexico. At the same time, however, Jackie makes a deal with the A.T.F. agents that will keep her out of prison as long as she can give them Ordell. In addition, she teams with her bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) so that they can reap the rewards and bring home the money for themselves. As all three factions put their plans into play, a number of things go wrong for each side, only leading to further complications.

If someone would have asked me my thoughts on Quentin Tarantino only a few years ago, I probably would have dismissed his work as ridiculous and too far off the mainstream. It took his 2009 film Inglourious Basterds to bring me around to his style of filmmaking, and after giving a few of his other ventures another viewing - namely, Pulp Fiction and 1992's Reservoir Dogs - I have to say that I've come full circle and can now call myself a full-fledged fan of the director. That being said, I had always wanted to give Jackie Brown a view, and I've only now been able to do just that.

The first thing I have to say is that one should not expect this film to measure up to some of Tarantino's greater films. As the first film post-Pulp Fiction, Tarantino had set quite a bar for himself, and it was going to be difficult to reach that lofty goal regardless of the type of film he created. It garnered generally positive critical reviews upon its release, and it currently holds an eighty-six percent approval rating on, where one can find the following consensus:

Tarantino's third film, fashioned as a comeback for star Pam Grier, offers typical wit and charm -- and is typically overstuffed.
What comes out of Jackie Brown is a legitimate film that still stands head-and-shoulders over most of what hits theaters nowadays, but in relation to the director's other efforts, this one's definitely on the lower end of the spectrum. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have its merits.

The film's screenplay proves to be engaging and entertaining, and although it's lacking in the profundity that some of Tarantino's other films enjoy, it still offers a few twists and turns to keep the audience guessing. We're given our nearly-obligatory scenes of mixed-and-matched timeline, but it's not quite as fresh as it has been in other films. Still, I have to say that there were a few moments where I thought I knew what was going to happen and was quickly proven incorrect. And for that, I have to commend Tarantino for not falling into the rote ideas that Hollywood had by that time established. Instead, he made a realistic film in which the bad guy often manages to take home the cake.

The film's cast proves to be decent, but I think we could've gotten a little bit more from some of the stars here. Grier has never been known for her acting prowess, but she does well as our lead in this one. She managed to nab a nomination at the Golden Globes for her performance, so that's saying something, I suppose. Jackson is fine as our central villain, but he's definitely been better before and since. Robert Forster might be the best on the screen this time around, as is evidenced by his Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Also be on the watch for some bigger names like Keaton, Chris Tucker and Robert De Niro to offer some interesting turns.

At the end of the day, Jackie Brown is a serviceable film that proves to be entertaining, but it just doesn't quite have that Tarantino "feel" to it. In a way, Tarantino almost seems "Tarantino-esque" this time around, almost as though he's trying to mimic himself in the hopes of crafting something extraordinary. It doesn't quite fire on all cylinders, but you'll still manage to be entertained throughout. That's why I say it's worth a watch, if only if you need to kill a few hours.

Movie Review SummaryGrade: BShould You See It? Yes

1997, Chris Tucker, drama, Jackie Brown, Michael Bowen, Michael Keaton, movie review, Oscar nom, Pam Grier, Quentin Tarantino, Robert De Niro, Robert Forster, and more:

Relevant to: JACKIE BROWN + Samuel L Jackson