Quentin Tarantino’s second feature (1994), a chronologically scrambled collection of interlocking crime stories, extracts most of its kicks from other movies and TV shows. Despite all its thematic nudges about redemption and second chances, its true agenda is the flip side of Forrest Gump: to make the media-savvy viewer the real hero of the story. A wet dream for 14-year-old male closet queens (or, perhaps more accurately, the 14-year-old male closet queen in each of us), this smart-alecky movie sparkles with canny twists and turns. John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, and Harvey Keitel vibrate with high-voltage star power, while Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Maria de Medeiros, Tim Roth, and Amanda Plummer amply fill out the remaining scenery. The overall project is evident: to evict real life and real people from the art film and replace them with generic teases and assorted hommages. Don’t expect any of the life experiences of the old movie sources to leak through; punchy, flamboyant surface is all.
R • 2 hours 34 min • 1994