‘America’s First Female Action Star’ – the tagline that Quentin Tarantino gave Pam Grier as he promised to make a film, especially for her.
A few years later, Jackie Brown was released, and I, like I’m sure Mrs Grier, am incredibly grateful this promise wasn’t broken.
The film details the story of the middle-aged air-stewardess, Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), who smuggles money from Mexico to Los Angeles for an arms dealer, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson).
After getting caught by FBI agents Ray Nicolet, (Michael Keaton), and Mark Dargus, (Michael Bowen), they propose a deal for her to help aid in Ordell’s arrest, in exchange for her freedom.
Meanwhile, Ordell asks the 56-year-old Max Cherry (Robert Forster), who runs a bail bond business, to release Jackie Brown with the intention of eliminating her. Jackie suspects Ordell’s plan, and plots a complicated confidence game to steal half a million dollars from Ordell.
The plot, adapted from the 1993 novel, Rum Punch, isn’t quite as action-heavy as some of Tarantino’s previous offerings, and takes the form of a simple action-consequent analysis.
We watch Brown and Cherry form their plan, the FBI devising a separate one, and Ordell create his own strategy – all oblivious to each other’s intentions.
It’s incredibly interesting and exciting to see characters interact and act with the objective of hiding their true intentions from each other and, as an audience, we get an unbiased, unadulterated look at each idea, and can decide for ourselves who we are rooting for. By the end, it’s a complete free-for-all as to what’s going to happen next.
Pam Grier stars as Jackie Brown, and what an excellent job she does. She portrays the character with a kind of cool confidence, but implies tones of hidden innocence within the character – adding depth, and half the fun of the movie is trying to learn and analyse Jackie herself.
Starring alongside her is Samuel L, Robert Di Niro, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, and Michael Keaton. As you can expect, the standard of acting is excellent across the board, which Jackson giving an exceptionally great performance as Ordell Robbie.
Tarantino’s direction is also very good, and I think he excels at creating tension in this film.
His entire filmography is basically comprised of crime epics, but Jackie Brown is a much gentler-paced, slow-burn film. Tarantino allows more time for character development, something that he is often criticized for the lack of in his other films.
Overall, Jackie Brown is an interesting, exciting and enthralling movie that appeals to just about everyone – action fans, crime fans, and even air-stewardess enthusiasts.
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