When 44-year-old flight attendant Jackie Brown (Pan Grier) gets caught smuggling $50,000 and a couple of ounces of coke, the FBI agent, Ray Nicolet (Michael Keaton), and the LA cop who catch her give her an ultimatum – go to jail, or help them get the man who the money belongs to. The only problem is, the man they’re after, Jackie’s boss, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson, surprise, surprise), has a tendency to permanently silence anyone who he suspects is getting in the way of his arms dealing business. That’s when she meets lonely bail bondsmen Max Cherry (Robert Forster) who falls in love with her. Between them, they come up with a plan to play the Feds off against Ordell and the people who work for him – shady ex-con Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) and Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda), a perma-stoned beach babe – and walk away with the $500,000 that they are all chasing.
It seems Quentin Tarantino scores again with the edgy, critically-acclaimed Jackie Brown. It’s another wildly entertaining film that is loaded with the unique coupling of hugely intense action and sly humour that we have come to love QT for. This crime-thriller also has yet another star-studded cast that also seem to make themselves a key feature of this man’s films.
So, as far the cast, I’ll start with Pam Grier who played the title character. She was brilliant as the sassy air hostess caught up in a rotten situation, and her scenes with Jackson’s Ordell were straight out of the top drawer. The smart mouth she gave Jackie meant she delivered Tarantino’s dialogue in exactly the way I’d imagine it was intended to be, and it also meant we knew this woman was not messing about. Whilst he has made some very masculine, testosterone-fuelled films during his career, Tarantino has never shied away from making films headed up by strong female leads, and it was with Jackie Brown that he paved the way. Grier was the ideal candidate to play her, and I can’t really imagine anybody else in the role.
Jackson as Ordell was just as good. As I’ve said before, his scenes with Grier were spectacular, as they were the perfect match for each other. However, another perfect match for Jackson here was the dialogue written for him. Quentin knows how to write it, and Jackson knows how to deliver it – have I mentioned that before? His lines in these films are endlessly quotable, and nothing changes with his role of Ordell in Jackie Brown.
Robert Forster received and Oscar nomination for his part as Max Cherry – Jackie’s partner in crime. He was wonderful as the man who fell in love with Jackie and who would clearly do anything for her, after all, he did help her cheat a dodgy arms dealer, the FBI and a feckless ex-con out of $500,000, for God’s sake. He gave a very sincere performance as Max and I, for one, totally believed he would go to the ends of the earth for her.
As I said at the start, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro and Bridget Fonda also starred alongside the already phenomenal cast, and they were all, of course, directed by the man himself. I can safely say that he is my favourite director as I have seen all of his films to date, and I have loved them all. However, he can also write very well too, and across many genres. I just think he is gifted and very good at what he does.
On the whole, there are many reasons why you might watch Jackie Brown. It has a stellar cast that has some real Hollywood icons in it, it is widely considered Tarantino’s hidden gem and it is a superb crime-thriller that is very cleverly written. I personally don’t think there is much you can fault about this film in all fairness.