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JACKIE BROWN (1997)
When A middle-aged flight attendant, Jackie Brown is caught red handed by police carrying illicit money for a tough arms dealer, Ordelle Robbie and a little surprise she didn't know about in her flight bag, Jackie decides to go for the gold and comes up with a risky intricate scheme to solve all her problems with the help of Max Cherry, her bail bondsman.
Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, based on the novel, Rum Punch, by Elmore Leonard, who also was the executive Producer on this film.
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino.
"Six players on the trail of a half a million in Cash. There's only one question... Who's playing who?"
No one knows how it's going down. Except for maybe JACKIE BROWN."
"LOOK OUT! caught between the Feds and a cold blooded killer. With half a million dollars up for grabs.
When A middle-aged flight attendant, Jackie Brown (Pam Greer), is caught red handed by tipped-off police, carrying illicit money for a tough arms dealer, Ordelle Robbie (Samuel L Jackson) and a little surprise she didn't know about in her flight bag, she is arrested and finds herself in hot water, in danger of doing some time, loosing her low-paid job with a bottom of the barrel Mexican Airlines, unless she is willing to help the detectives catch Ordelle Robbie, who will kill her without hesitation if he even thinks she will be tempted to turn him in.
Because she was caught 13 years earlier smuggling drugs for her then pilot husband, this current arrest was considered a second offense, which means jail time. Jackie and her then husband had worked for an upscale airlines, but when she got probation when she testified against her husband, she was fired from her well-paying job, and was shunned by the respectable airlines and wound up working for COBOL Airlines earning a measly 16,000 dollars a year, which she unwisely chose to supplement by carrying Ordelle Robbie's gun money up from Mexico. This was an ok arrangement until one of Robbie's employees, Beaumont (Chris Tucker) , was busted by police and trying to buy some favor with the police, spilled the beans to ATF detective Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and LAPD Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen) about the arrangement between Jackie Brown and Ordelle Robbie.
Thinking things over, she decides that at age 44, she didn't want to do a year in jail or probation, didn't want to have to start all over again, and was sick of being under the control of the charming yet volatile, ruthless Ordelle Robbie. The straw that broke the camels' back was when Ordelle came to see her after he bailed her out of jail that evening, to find out what she told the police and to "let her go." Being forewarned by the police that someone had shot Beaumont, Jackie secretly took an item out of Max's glove compartment, and came up with a sly and pointed plan in case of Ordelle paid her a visit, which turned out to be a good idea.
This is a great sequence of scenes between Ordelle (Samuel Jackson) and Jackie (Pam Grier),being well done, well lit for dramatic effect, and well directed by Quentin Tarantino. The scene builds nicely in intensity, keeping the viewer on the edge of the seat.
Jackie decides to try to come up with an intricate, bold but risky plan to give the police what they want, promise Ordelle more of his money, but planning to take the money for herself; thus taking Ordelle's money from right under the noses of Ordelle's unstable associates, coke head Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda) and an old prison buddy, hot tempered Louis Gara (Robert De Nero). Such a plan would get her out of trouble with the law, get rid of Ordelle and enable her to retire from the airlines and start anew. One false move could mean death by Ordelle or a jail sentence that the detectives will make sure she serves if they realize that she is playing them.
As Jackie becomes friends with straight arrow Max Cherry (Robert Forster), the burned out Bail Bondsman Robbie used to post Jackie's bail, Jackie decides that her plan could work if she had the expertise of Max Cherry to help execute her plan. After observing the trial money exchange at the Del Almo Mall food court, planned by the police and Jackie and counter planned by Jackie and Ordelle, using Ordelle's special friends, Simone (Hattie Winston) and Sheronda (Lisa Gay Hamilton), Max, tired of being a bail bondsmen, is tempted by Jackie's plan and decides to help Jackie for a 10% cut of the half million dollars, seeing for himself that this plan could work, though the audience is kept in the dark until the plan is implemented, risking jail time himself if the police catch them and death if Ordelle figures things out.
Quentin Tarantino's screenplay is not only a tense, exciting crime sting caper for adults, with all the twists and turns as two people use their wits and nerve to carry out the plan, trying to keep two steps ahead of both the police and a soon to be upset Ordelle Robbie, but also a marvelous character study of human beings of various moral make-up and outlook on life, making the characters in the story more than just one dimension. This lives up to Leonard's novels where the "major characters in his novels tend to have a checkered past. Their criminal tendencies gives Leonard the option of having his central figures tap into negative or positive traits for surprising end twist."
Elmore Leonard, the author of the novel, Rum Punch, the basis of Tarantino's screenplay, was the executive producer of JACKIE BROWN, and his influence together with Quentin Tarantino's directing and writing abilities created a truly entertaining, realistic film, brought to life by a great cast.
The story divides itself between the two subplots, which intertwine and come together at the end. One covers the trials and tribulations of Jackie Brown and one explores the world of Ordelle Robbie and his associates, and their relationships.
The film starts off with Ordelle Robbie showing his old prison friend, soon to be employee, Louis Gara, an informational video called Chicks Love Guns, introducing Louis to the wonderful world of illegal gun sales. While viewing each bikini clad gal showing off her gun with gusto, Robbie is talking a mile a minute, about each gun, its pros and cons, while his surfer gal Melanie eats a bowl of noodles, seductively wiggling her toes at Louis. Thus begins the character glimpses of these characters; Louis Gara, Melanie Ralston and of course the unforgetable Ordelle Robbie.
Samuel L. Jackson gives a marvelous performance as Ordelle Robbie, a character who had some of the strengths of a great CEO and would have gone far in legitimate business, if only he had a sense of right and wrong, had an appreciation for moral character and wasn't self-absorbed and without mercy when his money and business are concerned. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of the people who worked for him, accepted what is, planned accordingly, treating them fairly as long as they didn't threaten him. Robbie had the drive, charm and smarts to succeed and had no problem "taking care of business' such as "letting go" employees who had liabilities too great to keep employed, without letting emotions get in the way, which would've been a positive thing for his victims. Unfortunately, his dark, ruthless side dominates his behavior, and letting go meant killing, and his own self and best interests were first before anything else. Jackson is witty, charming and very scary indeed.
Robert De Niro convincingly portrays Louis Gara, who had just gotten out of prison, as the insecure new kid on the block, wanting to fit in, doing his best to follow Ordelle Robbie's instructions, despite his personal weaknesses and impulsiveness. He finds himself in the difficult situation of having to work with a person he develops a strong dislike for, Melanie Ralston.
Bridget Fonda is most enjoyable as Ordelle Robbie's "little surfer gal" a bad girl who is disrespectful towards Ordelle Robbie, has quite a crack problem and will have intercourse with anyone willing, including Louis in the kitchen standing up, which shows the level of their moral character.(Bridget's bare bottom isn't seen in the DVD version, just a simulation of the act, waist up - much to the relief or disappointment or disgust of the audience). She lives in Ordelle Robbie's Malibu house, and answers the phone, provides sex, gets drinks for Ordelle and his guests when Ordelle can make her. She is drafted into the money changing scheme out of necessity with disastrous results.
My favorite series of scenes concerning these two happens when Louis and Melanie are supposed to go the mall and get the money from Jackie. Louis is getting more and more nervous, annoyed, angry with Melanie who is being really obnoxious and doing everything she can to bother Louis. The audience gets the feeling that this situation is going to end in disaster, but is left guessing when and where. Will this inevitable blow up interfere with Jackie's caper?
Chris Tucker - Portrays hapless Beaumont Livingston, who was caught with an illegal gun in his car, and calls his employer, Ordelle Robbie for bail money
The other story plot shows the travails of Jackie Brown, a woman who wants to get out of the hot water she finds herself in, in a creative, bold, if illegal way to take control of her life.One is introduced to Jackie Brown, Max Cherry, Mark Dargus and Ray Nicolette.
Pam Grier - is a veteran actress who is strongly convincing as the "too cool for school" Jackie Brown, doing a slick balancing act between the cops and Ordelle, while planning her own heist of money, though she goes through a variety of emotions as things become tough and dangerous during and after the money exchange.
Robert Forster - was nominated for an academy award for his shining portrayal of Max Cherry as a discerning, tough-minded, burned out Bail bondsman who falls for Jackie and decides to help her. My favorite series of scenes with Forster is when Max manages to live through a tough but fair interrogation by Ordelle Robbie, looking for the missing love of his life, his money after the money exchange leaves Robbie with only a little of what he expected. Robert Mitchem or Humphrey Bogart couldn't have done better.
Michael Keaton is very convincing in his straight role as dedicated, honest ATF agent, Ray Nicolette who is willing to go along with what he thinks is a money exchange, to nail Ordelle Robbie, the gun seller he wants to put in custody.
A great scene is when Ray suspects Jackie isn't telling the whole truth and grills her in the interrogation room about it after the real money exchange leaves the cops empty-handed, but with some ammo against Ordelle, though Jackie is being looked at closely as someone trying to get away with robbery, leaving the audience wondering if the police will put two and two together and send some folks to jail.
Michael Bowen - Does a convincing job portraying LAPD Cop, Mark Dargus who is rude and streetwise, playing the "bad cop" while interrogating Jackie Brown about the 50, 000 dollars in her bag, trying to soften her up for his ATF partner Ray Nicolette.
Favorite series of scenes:
Filmed long before MEMENTO and TV series, BOOMTOWN, JACKIE BROWN offers the viewer three points of view of the final real money exchange - Jackie's, Max's and the unstable pair of Louis and Melanie, who were to pick up the money, far away from the supposed cop-involved plan at the food court.
The last 20 minutes of the film leaves one guessing as to what is going to happen, as a couple of twists in the story adds to the excitement and tension of the film.
JACKIE BROWN is definitely for adults, due to the rough language, drug use and the one sex scene in the kitchen. There are three shootings in the film, which don't show any blood, but may be disturbing for sensitive people, especially the last one.
QUOTES: (While showing Louis a video, Chicks Love Guns, describing the guns he sells) Ordelle Robbie: "Now that there is the Tec-9, a crappy spray gun from South Miami. This gun is advertised as the most popular gun in American crime. Do you believe that sh--? It actually says that in the little book that comes with it: the most popular gun in American crime. Like they're actually proud of that sh--"
QUOTES: Max Cherry: "Half a million dollars will always be missed. "
Ordelle talking to Louis about Louis' concerns that Melanie can't be trusted.: "You can't trust Melanie but you can trust Melanie to be Melanie."