Jackie Brown

1997

Jackie Brown (1997)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Tarantino's third film, fashioned as a comeback vehicle for star Pam Grier, offers typical wit and charm -- and is typically overstuffed.

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Movie Info

Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed this adaptation of Elmore Leonard's 1995 Rum Punch, switching the action from Miami to LA, and altering the central character from white to black. Ruthless arms dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), who lives with perpetually stoned beach-babe Melanie (Bridget Fonda), teams with his old buddy Louis Gara (Robert De Niro), just released from prison after serving four years for armed robbery. ATF agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and cop Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen) bust stewardess Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), who was smuggling money into the country for Ordell. Ordell springs Jackie, but when middle-aged bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) picks her up at the jail, he's attracted to her, and they choose a romantic route with detours. Mistrust and suspicions surface after Jackie pits Ordell and the cops against each other, convincing Ordell that she's going to double-cross the cops. Tarantino commented on the film's budget: "Jackie Brown only cost $12 million. You can't lose. You absolutely, positively can't lose. And you don't have to compromise." ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

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Cast

Pam Grier
as Jackie Brown
Samuel L. Jackson
as Ordell Robbie
Robert Forster
as Max Cherry
Michael Keaton
as Ray Nicolette
Robert De Niro
as Louis Gara
Michael Bowen
as Mark Dargus
Chris Tucker
as Beaumont Livingston
Sid Haig
as Judge
Denise Crosby
as Public Defender
Quentin Tarantino
as Voice on Answering Machine
Ellis Williams
as Cockatoo Bartender
Laura Lovelace
as Steakhouse Waitress
Tangie Ambrose
as Billingsley Sales Girl No. 2
T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh
as Raynelle/Ordell's Junkie Friend
Venessia Valentino
as Cabo Flight Attendant
Diana Uribe
as Anita Lopez
Renee Kelly
as Cocktail Waitress
Elizabeth McInerney
as Bartender at Sam's
Colleen Mayne
as Girl at Security Gate
Christine Lydon
as Chick Who Loves Guns
Julia Ervin
as Chick Who Loves Guns
Juliet Lon
as Chick Who Loves Guns
Michelle Berube
as Chick Who Loves Guns
Gillian Iliana Waters
as Chick Who Loves Guns
Gary Mann
as Deputy
Roy Nesvold
as Sheriff
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Critic Reviews for Jackie Brown

All Critics (80) | Top Critics (19)

Surprisingly, Tarantino displays less confidence assembling it than he did in the earlier film. At more than two hours, it's simply too long, or at least it seems so.

Apr 27, 2018 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

The tale is filled with funny, gritty Tarantino lowlife gab and a respectable body count, but what is most striking is the film's gallantry and sweetness.

Mar 13, 2007 | Full Review…
Newsweek
Top Critic

Quentin Tarantino puts together a fairly intricate and relatively uninvolving money-smuggling plot, but his cast is so good that you probably won't feel cheated.

Mar 13, 2007 | Full Review…

The film is more Jarmusch than Peckinpah -- its soul is in the minutiae.

Mar 13, 2007
Slate
Top Critic

Offers an abundance of pleasures, especially in the realm of characterization and atmosphere.

Mar 13, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

It's like a scuzz-bucket film noir directed by Stanley Kubrick at his most static-mesmeric.

Feb 27, 2007 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Jackie Brown

½

Not Tarantino's best work but still an enjoyable homage to blaxploitation with a welcome comeback by Pam Grier - and although this solid crime movie has charm and style, it is also a bit overlong and could have had a few scenes left out in post-production.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Tarantino's best character piece.

Liam Gadd
Liam Gadd

Super Reviewer

½

Aging flight attendant Pam Grier is caught between the police and ruthless gun runner Samuel L. Jackson and enlists the help of bail bondsman Robert Forster to scam half a million dollars in the process. Jackie Brown was met with a level of disappointment when it was released; yes it had the cool ensemble cast, excellent retro soundtrack and prolific use of the "N" word, but where were the violence, idiosyncratic characters and quirky comic dialogue we were all expecting? But the fact is, Jackie Brown is by far the most mature film Tarantino has made so far. The dialogue is more naturalistic, the characters believable and well written, and the statuesque queen of blaxploitation, Pam Grier proves that the years have in no way diminished her charisma and sex appeal. She gives a sensitive, layered performance of a woman who is full of confidence on the surface, masking an underlying fear of a wasted life; her relationship with Forster is full of warmth and sincerity rather than the contrived romantic bullshit you find in most Hollywood thrillers. Jackson is also fantastic as the cold as ice killer and they spark off each other brilliantly. This film is easily Tarantino's most low key and mainstream, but this most definitely is not a bad thing and deserves to be revisited by anyone who felt that disappointment the first time around.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

½

After "Reservoir Dogs" in 1991 and "Pulp Fiction" in 1994, Quentin Tarantino was hailed as the new wunderkind of contemporary American cinema with his triumphant originality and seemingly effortless ability to excite audiences. However, there were still claims of him borrowing heavily from other movies and despite the second feature from a new filmmaker predominantly being the 'tricky one', it seemed that it was Tarantino's third that posed this problem for him. Added to which, he still had a few doubters wondering if he could emulate his previous successes. In trying to make ends meet, middle-aged air hostess, Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is also a courier for local gun-smuggler Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) but when federal agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and LA cop Mark Dargas (Michael Bowen) get wind of her plans she faces time in jail. With the help of bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster), Jackie hatches a scam to play the police and her boss off one another. As a big fan of crime writer Elmore Leonard and, in particular, his novel "Rum Punch" (upon which this is an adaptation), I was admittedly left with feelings of disappointment when I first seen "Jackie Brown". I was unimpressed and even entertained the thought that Tarantinoâ(TM)s critics may well have been right. Upon repeat viewings though, it becomes apparent just how good a film it really is. For the most part, Tarantino resists the temptation of his usual pop-cultural references or the gratuitous violence that his name had become synonymous with. Instead, he opts for a more subtle and leisurely approach and in doing so, allows his actors the space to develop their characters and the drama to unfold at itâ(TM)s own pace. Again it could also be said that Tarantino pays yet more homage to films of the past. He changed the ethnicity of the lead female character in Leonard's novel from the white Jackie Burke to a black Jackie Brown which allowed him to cast Pam Grier and reference her blaxploitation films "Foxy Brown" and "Coffy" as well as, employing the use of Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street". In no way is this a blaxploitation film. It's much broader than that but certainly has some hallmarks from that particular sub-genre. As for Grier, herself, it's a bold move by Tarantino to cast her in the lead and essentially structure the film around her. Many have applauded this casting choice (I mean, let's face it, Tarantino rarely gets it wrong and has resurrected a few careers in his day) but I think I'm one of the few who actually thinks that Grier's performance is a little stretched at times. With the abundance of talent around her, she seems to play her hand a little too forcefully and has a tendency to overact. That being said, it would be hard not to play it this way when the company she's keeping are as strong as they are: Tarantino's go-to man for dialogue delivery Samuel L. Jackson echoes Pulp's Jules Winnfield only this time his gun-running Ordell Robbie has less biblical monologues and more of a dangerous cutting edge; Bridget Fonda plays his vacuous beach blonde accomplice to perfection while Michael Keaton's doggedly determined ATF agent Ray Nicolette has the requisite cocksure arrogance. The biggest revelation, though, is Robert Forster's Oscar nominated turn as bale bondsman Max Cherry. Forster achieved some acclaimed film and television performances throughout the 1960's and 70's but eventually fell into obscurity before Tarantino revived his career with this role. On this evidence it's hard to see why Robert Forster disappeared for so long. His work here is a nuanced and very subtle piece of work - which brings me to the other Robert. Most of you will be aware of my fondness for all all things DeNiro but his work here is one of his most under-appreciated. While everyone around him sink their teeth into there colourful characters, his stoned ex-convict Louis Gara is left to sit in the background with very little to say or do. Leave it to DeNiro then to bring this character to life; his glazed look and awkward social communication is pitched so well that it's hard to take your eyes off him. When he is given something to do, though, DeNiro brings this subdued characters volatility to the surface with dangerous and convincing results. Rarely have I seen him steal so many scenes by practically doing nothing and even though he's seriously under-utilised, this is one of my favourite performances of his. Not as well received on its release as the exceptional Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction but over the years this has gradually gained the respect that it deserves and stands as one of Tarantino's finest and most mature outings. Mark Walker

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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