40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Dynamite Cast + Good Fun = Excellent Film
, July 22, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Jackie Brown (Widescreen Edition) [VHS] (VHS Tape)
First off: "Jackie Brown" is not a disappointment. After the surprise success of Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" in 1994, everyone was looking for him to fail on his next attempt. Sorry, friends, but this just isn't the case. In many ways, "Jackie Brown" is a more enjoyable ride. After repeated viewings of "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs," one can easily pinpoint the weaknesses in Tarantino's style. He uses similar references to '70s action and blaxploitation films, he uses relic music hits from the same era, and he even uses similar character names (Marvin with no ear, meet Marvin with no head). The violence is always there, and the incessant use of profanity is always there. But "Jackie Brown" is different from these previous efforts. There's no appearances by either Harvey Keitel or Tim Roth; instead, the film is headlined by the queen of the '70s blaxploitation flicks, the eternally sexy Pam Grier. The supporting cast includes Robert Forster, a staple of cheesy B-movies, Samuel L. Jackson in a return to the world of Tarantino, and the very interesting threesome of Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda, and the ever-versatile De Niro to round out the cast. So what, besides the cast, makes the film such a knockout? While the profanity level has been toned down, Tarantino's script loses no edge and maintains a constant freshness and sense of humor. Grier has never been much of an actress, but she's always had a certain charm, and she uses this charm effectively in "Jackie Brown." Forster gives his most memorable performance here, playing the role of Max Cherry with complete control and positive cool. Fonda is great as Melanie, and Keaton has a blast playing ATF agent Ray Nicolet, but De Niro steals the show as Louis Gara. De Niro has one of his better supporting roles here, and he makes the most of it. Louis is something of a dimwit, but only De Niro could inject the character with as much humor as he has here. The film, at 154m, is probably too long and overindulgent, but Tarantino presents us with an interesting plot, and some equally interesting subplots to boot. The most effective of these is the relationship that builds between Grier and Forster; there is an attraction there, but the insecurities of each character prevents this from ever reaching a climax. The film is colorful, has solid (but not brilliant) direction, and, aside from some serious lapses in logic, the script flows seamlessly. And guess what? There's no guest appearance by the man himself, who must have realized after "From Dusk Till Dawn" that, while he may be a writer and a director, and actor he is not. "Jackie Brown" reveals the limitations of Quentin Tarantino, but the film is still a riot, and one of the most entertaining of 1997. That's more than I can say for James Cameron's "Titanic," which fails on all levels for me, despite what the critics say. "Jackie Brown" delivers a knockout punch. It's great to see that some Elmore Leonard novels are finally getting the big-screen treatments that they deserve.
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