Jackie Brown (1997) – Who’s Playing Who?

Quentin Tarantino, the crime theme, homage, gangster, and blood. They all couldn’t be separated after the success of “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction“. “Jackie Brown” is the director’s third film, adapting a novel titled “Rum Punch” by Elmore Leonard. In this film, Tarantino gives homage to blaxploitation films of the 70s. From the use of language, thick nuances of black Americans culture, music, and others. Tarantino always includes homage in his films as well as “Pulp Fiction”.

Unlike his two previous films, “Jackie Brown” has a simple plot but the story itself is quite complicated. It’s about Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), a flight attendant who has just arrived from Mexico. However, the LAPD caught her after they found saving large amounts of money and drugs. Elsewhere, Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson) is an arms dealer. He just killed his men who were caught storing weapons.

Apparently, his men ask for help from a guarantor, Max Cherry (Robert Forster). He helped get Jackie out of prison. It’s known, Jackie is a money courier owned by Ordell. Suddenly, various conflicts continuously such as police interrogation, the conflicts between other characters, but they all stab each other from behind. More or less, “Jackie Brown” is inseparable from the elements of money, drugs, gangsters, murder, and others.

Tarantino packed “Jackie Brown” as a linear and simple movie. However, various intrigues occur in the story itself. It’s complicated but in the context of understanding each character’s actions. Tarantino understands the intricacies of the intrigue so that it doesn’t force the complicated story as well as not too complicated. How the characters act as they please like Robert De Niro as an ex-con man, no more an idiot but also not a criminal. On the other hand, Samuel L. Jackson as the guy who really wants the money has a fit of anger. With things like this, Tarantino makes this film so interesting but different from his previous two films.

This film influences many of the typical characterizations of classic films. In Tarantino universe, he really likes black as his character, never black yet always gray but still has a mind full of twist. In “Jackie Brown”, Tarantino puts Pam Grier as its main plot, a blaxploitation especially in the film “Foxy Brown” starring Pam Grier too. Grier’s Jackie Brown is like acting in acting when she is doing various tricks to anticipate various events in the future.

Unlike Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules Winnfield in “Pulp Fiction” as one of the most memorable characters, Jackson’s back with his weird hair but with more aggressive. Robert Forster, through his role, climbed his character to the top. But, Robert De Niro is the most memorable in this film. He doesn’t play as a cool or bad*ss character like in most Martin Scorsese movies. In this movie, Tarantino transforms De Niro as a stiff, fragile, and idiot. There is one scene when his emotions start to peak and we see De Niro as a different character. There is Michael Keaton and Chris Tucker as well.

Although the movie has a linear plot, there is a scene where every point of view shows each character in one location. Simple but also Tarantino built a tense atmosphere. Interestingly if this isn’t Quentin Tarantino. The movie has a slow-paced and the story is told mostly through dialogue. We always see all of these characters in a ridiculous situation and of course, Tarantino’s favorite witty dialog. There isn’t much action or even blood. Every scene is intense and soothing. The long shot of Tarantino is just one special thing.

There is not much how crime movies always play safe, always follow a similar format where the protagonist is trapped in a puzzle planned by the psycho or the antagonist. In contrast, this movie has so many colors in characters, not only as an antagonist acting like an antagonist but on the contrary and diverse. And this is why Tarantino leaves us with a plain story but still, there is a soul. “Jackie Brown” is a movie full of so many colorful characters where these characters often talk and act in unique ways.

4 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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