Perhaps I am being foolish, but Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown makes me sad. I think that Jackie Brown is a well constructed, well scripted film. I might actually classify it as a great movie, but it still makes me sad. As much fun as his previous efforts, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, are, I think that Jackie Brown shows off Tarantino's skills as a writer and as a director in far more grand fashion.
So, why does Jackie Brown make me sad? It makes me sad because I feel as though after Jackie Brown Tarantino opted to spend roughly the next decade making movies to fit certain very small niches he enjoys rather than making a single overall great movie. Now, some folks out there will instantly jump on me because Jackie Brown unquestionably harkens back to the '70s' genres Tarantino loves so much, and while that's true, it still is a far more accessible movie than either of the Kill Bill films or Death Proof. Tarantino doesn't have to make films to appeal to everyone, in fact I'd argue that he should only make movies he wants to make, but there is a difference—even if it's hard to discern—between a Death Proof and a Jackie Brown. This may be a fruitless discussion though (at least fruitless without spending more time than we have on it), so let us press on.
One of the reasons Jackie Brown is an important film for Tarantino is because it is such a drastic departure from Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. While the language may not be toned down here, the violence unquestionably is, and it is also a movie which, almost entirely, is told from one point in time forward as opposed to jumping around (a technique which can cover other sins in a film). For me, Jackie Brown is a movie which shows that Tarantino can add a whole lot of substance to the abundant amounts of style present in his earlier efforts.
Based on Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch, this film stars Pam Grier as Jackie Brown, a down on her luck stewardess who is helping a wannabe gun runner, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), ferry cash to and from Mexico. The exact story there, why Robbie has his money in Mexico and how he got it there and why he can't get it himself and why he would want to bring it back and… and… and… are somewhat unclear, but that's all just the maguffin which gets the story going. The real tale is about Jackie maybe or maybe not falling in love with bail bondsmen Max Cherry (Robert Forster) and his helping her avoid the police, ATF, and Robbie as she tries to steal the money.