|Jackie Brown (2-Disc Collector's Edition)|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 20 August 2002|
Slick and smart, Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is pinned against the wall by a gunrunning gangster and an aggressive Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agent. One misstep will mean her death. Carrying the black cloud of past sins over her head for the last 20 years, Jackie is currently barely making ends meet by working as a stewardess aboard a small airline featuring trips from Los Angeles to Cabo, Mexico. To help keep those ends tied, Jackie has also been moonlighting as a money courier for Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), a gun dealer striving to go big time. Unfortunately, Robbie’s luck with finding honest people to work with in his chosen line of work is terrible. One of his employees got busted on a drunk driver beef, then was caught with a pistol.
In order to avoid the direct return to the penal system, the employee gives the BATF Agent Ray Nicolette information about Ordell. That information pinpoints Jackie Brown, who suddenly ends up in a violent crossfire between law enforcement people wanting to make names for themselves and Ordell, who is willing to kill anyone who can bring him down. Jackie wants out, and Jackie has a plan.
Chapter 1 of the DVD opens up with the theme from the ‘70s blaxploitation film “Across 110th Street” that issues from the left and right main speakers as the sounds of jet engines rumble from the center speaker(s). Jackie Brown hurries through the airport crowd, obviously in a hurry to get to work. The credits roll over this bit of action, getting the audience acquainted with Jackie and her world. She’s obviously in her middle years, tired and worn from the day-to-day grind.
Chapter 2 introduces Ordell Robbie. Ordell is watching “Chicks With Guns,” a special feature included on the DVD Collector’s Edition, while explaining the gunrunning business to Louis (Robert De Niro), who is four days out of prison after a four-year jolt for bank robbery. The “Chicks With Guns” audio runs through the left and right mains while Ordell’s conversation with Louis comes from the center speaker(s), giving the audience the feeling that he or she is sitting in the small living area with the two criminals and Melanie (Bridget Fonda), the blond beach bunny that Ordell is supporting. When Ordell picks up the phone and talks to Beaumont, an employee who just got busted and is in jail facing a ten-year shot in prison after violating parole, hip-hop music starts popping from the front speakers and underscores the understated threat in the exchange.
Needing a bail bondsman to get Beaumont out of jail, Ordell goes to see Max Cherry (Robert Forster) Bonds in Chapter 3. Again, the music coming through the mains plays beneath sections of the conversation, finally tapering off and leaving only the two men talking as the focus. When Louis and Ordell finish their business, their dialogue is layered with the urban noises of the streets around them, coming from the mains. Later, at Beaumont’s apartment, the sounds of jet engines passing by overhead spews from the front speakers and heat up the subwoofers reminds the audience of Jackie Brown even though she hasn’t been featured in the movie since. Urban sounds continue around Ordell and Beaumont as they talk. The music fades out as they load up into Ordell’s car and drive away. In the next scene, the music resumes, reaching a crescendo during an act of extreme violence.
Chapter 4 shifts to Louis in the home of a 40-something stripper. He’s watching her moves and the bump-and-grind music echoes through the center speaker(s) then cycles through the front speakers as she answers the phone. Again, the effect draws the audience’s attention directly to the phone exchange between Louis and Ordell. As they talk, the echo of a police siren slices through the music in the mains.
Jackie Brown returns to the action in Chapter 5. She’s in an underground parking garage off the airport and the sounds of passing jets blasts through the front speakers and the subwoofer. Jackie’s theme music plays here as well, identifying the sound for the audience, a device that will be used to an even greater degree in the closing scenes of the movie. LAPD Detective Mark Dargus and BATF Agent Ray Nicolette apprehend Jackie. The two law enforcement men know all about the money Jackie is carrying. She refuses to talk, showing the street smarts of her harsh background. She’s stunned when the BATF agent finds drugs in the money as well, and she knows she’s going down for some hard time. The passing of a prison bus rings with a note of grim finality, moving from the center speaker(s) to the right main, then fading out through the left main.
At the correctional facility in Chapter 7, the gate slides from left to right, mirrored by the sound issuing through the main speakers. Max meets Jackie and likes what he sees. He also notices that she’s a woman who’s used to getting hurt by men, and that draws out some of his protective nature. The echo of Jackie’s footsteps as she walks away from the correctional facility is awesome as it rolls through the surround sound, reminding the audience that this woman is alone and against all odds. Later, at a bar where Max buys Jackie a drink, the music permeates the getting-to-know-you conversation between them, making the dialogue feel more real and down-to-earth.
Chapter 8 introduces the threat of Ordell watching Jackie’s house with the backdrop of Johnny Cash’s hit “Tennessee Stud” ringing through the speakers and lighting up the subwoofer. After dropping Jackie off, Max’s car passes Ordell, and the sound whispers through the speakers during the last few seconds of the song. Ordell’s footsteps ring against the street as he pulls his gloves on and walks to Jackie’s house. The knock against Jackie’s door sounds loud and ominous, filling the atmosphere with threat. The split-screen technique that director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino employs to reveal the fact that Jackie has obtained Max’s gun is nice because the viewer has his or her attention divided between Jackie and Ordell’s situation and what Max has to do with it.
Chapter 9 has the Delphonics in the background during another scene between Jackie and Max. The music again lends itself to the easy camaraderie forming between the two characters.
The conversation between Jackie and the two police officers in Chapter 10 rings with authenticity as the conversation in the other cubicles washes around them through the front speakers.
Chapter 12 kicks off with a meeting between Ordell and Jackie. The jets echoing in the background through the front speakers is a constant reminder that they’re near LAX. In Chapter 13, Louis confides to Ordell that he has had sex with Melanie, and the guy-guy talk is good, layered on top of the bar music that rolls around them.
Chapter 14 takes place in the Del Amo Mall in Torrance, California. The mall sounds around Jackie and Ordell lend an authentic feeling to the scene.
In the concluding chapters of the DVD, Tarantino and the characters make use of the music, using theme songs for Jackie, for Louis and Melanie, for Ordell, and for Max. The audio tracks are layered, working together extremely well, driving up the adrenaline levels of the audience.
Generous with its extras, the DVD packs a punch regarding Tarantino, Grier and Forster, who received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as Max. The specials enable Grier and Forster to step out of the shadows and bring new audiences up to date on the careers they’ve had before “Jackie Brown.” The MTV interviews are well done as well, a good addition to the overall DVD experience. “Chicks Who Love Guns,” the video used by Ordell to sell his weapons, is absolutely a hoot.
The deleted scenes are nice to check out as well. None of them are really contribute much to the overall plot because there are enough twists and complications going on as it is, but they do deepen the characters and there’s a lot of pleasure to be had in watching the actors and actresses work. One scene in particular, between Grier and Michael Keaton’s sleazy lawman in a restaurant, is great because Grier flummoxes Keaton, something that probably doesn’t happen often. The last scene with Grier has to be seen to be believed, and probably can’t be described at all.
Siskel & Ebert’s review of the movie is excellent. The two critics hit on the same facets of the movie that Tarantino intended to go big in “Jackie Brown.” The bits and snippets showcase some of Tarantino’s best dialogue. Comparing the theatrical trailers to the TV spots produces some interesting insights, and gives a distinct distillation of the different ways in which the marketing people try to reach the audiences. It’s also interesting to see how the TV spots changed as the reviews started coming in.
Also featured and definitely worth noting, the DVD pack offers trailers from past movies that Grier and Forster starred in. The range is wide and interesting, and builds an interest in going back to take a look at those movies.
“Jackie Brown Collector’s Edition” is a prize package for any film fan. The feel of the story reaches back into the early years of the action pictures while at the same time presenting the pace and crisp dialogue of the present. Tarantino’s dialogue is a pure delight, whether watching the film just to enjoy or to take a look at the craft of scriptwriting. Grier and Forster are mesmerizing in their performances, so cool and collected, so in sync together, and it’s their work that really sells the carefully understated love story threading throughout the overt caper plot. Fans of Tarantino or any of the movie’s stars will want this DVD to add to their collections, and anyone who loves caper films or multi-faceted characters interacting with each other while working their own agendas will want to see this one. The DVD extras make this package too tempting to pass up.