This still holds up very well, even once you know the twists: the dialogue, photography, set design, editing, acting, etc, etc. It has a great underworld-LA-feel: motels where you can hear the traffic zoom by, the importance of cars, dingy motels with long corridors, radios blaring in the background, bright sun, low income earners (even the crims are struggling to make a buck). Things I felt were faults at the time still come across that way: I didn’t buy that anyone in the Quentin Tarantino universe wouldn’t own a television as John Travolta claims he doesn’t (he still knows the difference between Mamie Van Doren and Jayne Mansfield); some scenes go on for too long, even with the outbursts of violence; the Harvey Keitel sequence is a bit anti-climatic (“wipe the blood off and let’s dump the car” – couldn’t he have come up with something more hard core or clever than that?); the word “n*gger” is used far too often by characters who don’t need to.
Pretty much all the acting is superb. Bruce Willis was great, John Travolta deserved his comeback – and Samuel L Jackson seemed to burst out of nowhere. Loved Ving Rhames – at first a source of terror, then all too humanised. The girls were good, too – whatever happened to the girl who plays the cab driver?