Welcome to the first post of the 50/50 Project. I've been wanting to see this one for a while, as it's the only full-length Tarantino I hadn't seen. Though from what I had heard, it was one of his lesser efforts (or at least the one nobody seems to talk about). Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant who brings money back from Mexico for an arms dealer named Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson). Ordell is meanwhile entertaining Louis (Robert De Niro), a guy who has recently gotten out of jail, by letting him hang around and chat up Melanie (Bridget Fonda). But after Ordell takes care of a situation with Beaumont (Chris Tucker), he hires a bail bondsman, Max Cherry (Robert Forster) to get Jackie out of jail when she gets mixed up in the situation. But a couple FTA agents, including Ray (Michael Keaton), want her to bust Ordell, bringing up a complicated heist-like situation.
I can understand why nobody tends to talk about this one out of the Tarantino filmography. The man is known for a certain style, but it seems only half of style was there. The film was almost all dialogue, as his films always are, but the dialogue this time around wasn't super interesting. Tarantino also tends to have a kind of kinetic style, a certain energy to his films, and this was also lacking here. At least half the movie felt dry and stagnant. I guess it just didn't have the usual pizzazz one would expect from Tarantino.
The part of the movie that did feel stylish and did finally catch my interest was the last 45 minutes (roughly). Basically when the money exchange sequence happens up through the end of the movie. The whole sequence plays with narrative style in a way I really enjoy, not to mention it's just a fun and suspenseful sequence.
Despite the flaws elsewhere, the acting was really good all around. Everyone seemed to be having fun, but the most fun to watch was Robert De Niro. It wasn't a very De Niro-type role, and he was pretty funny just doing pretty much nothing for the majority of the movie. By the third act, he's more De Niro-ish, but it's all good. On the whole, everybody does the best they can with what they were given.
In the end, I agree this was a weaker effort from Tarantino, but it's still a decent film. It's just that in the front 2/3s of the film, there were a lot of scenes that really dragged and could have been trimmed down. There were some key visuals that definitely made it Tarantino (some worked, others were slightly awkward), but something just didn't mesh well. Though, again, the last third of the film was entertaining enough to really hike up my feelings on the rest of it, so at least it ends on a high note, making the rest of the film worth sitting through.