Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Quentin Tarantino hit the ground running with Reservoir Dogs, dazzled the cynics with Pulp Fiction and now pays his dues to Elmore Leonard with a near perfect adaptation of a modern crime novel.

This is a long movie that doesn't waste time. Unlike L.A. Confidential that revelled in the stuff, violence erupts suddenly, mostly off-screen and then subsides. The language is street smart, rather than clever chic and the acting inspires.

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Samuel L Jackson sells guns on the black (no pun intended) market. Robert De Niro, weeks out of prison after a four year stretch for bank robbery, mooches around Jackson's apartment. Also mooching is Bridget Fonda, in denim cut-offs, with rings on her toes, whose sole ambition is "to get high and watch TV". She likes flirting with con artists and slugballs and yet, true to everyone in this twisted tale, is not averse to the main chance.

Pam Grier is an air hostess, used by Jackson to smuggle cash from South America into Florida. When the cops arrest her after a tip off, Jackson springs her through bailbondsman Robert Forster, but not before she comes to an arrangement with detective Michael Keaton to take her main man down. Trust is not a commodity that has credence in this environment. Deals aren't worth the breath they're spoken on. Half a million in unmarked greens is at stake here and everyone has a view on snafflng it. Scams, stings, crosses, double crosses weave and interweave throughout the plot. Who's fooling who? Who isn't? It's a devil's cauldron of high octane intrigue.

Grier has a presence that dominates. She is a beautiful woman and a fine actress and Tarantino takes good care of her. In fact, there are times when you suspect the camera is having an affair. De Niro stands out in such a glittering ensemble with yet another definitive performance and Keaton shows once again that he is a store of nervous energy. Jackson can take any role and give it life, conveying a ruthless power streak with a playful tendency to talk things up ("My ass may be dumb, but I ain't a dumbass"). Forster has a tragic, marked face, as if all those year since Alligator and The Delta Force have been tough. In the pivotal role of the bailbondsman he holds the centre ground with calm conviction. As for Fonda, she's a tease. But what a tease! Tarantino does not play flash boy wonder. His film is an individual creation, with a goose-pimply soundtrack, that respects the genre.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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An air hostess becomes involved in a plot to take down a drug dealer.
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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Michael Bowen, Chris Tucker, Lisa Gay Hamilton

Year: 1997

Runtime: 154 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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