Monday, December 3, 2012

Reservoir Dogs (1992) Review

Reservoir Dogs poster
Part of Merry Christmas and Happy Tarantino Month!

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn
Genre: Crime, Thriller

Reservoir Dogs is Tarantino's directorial debut (if you don't count his earlier amateur film) and what a fine debut it is.

The plot concerns a jewel robbery gone wrong. Who died, who didn't, were they set up, who's the rat, etc. are common questions to be had here. The plot is basically a rip-off of Ringo Lam's 1987 City on Fire, a Chinese film that Reservoir Dogs stole many ideas from, though Reservoir Dogs arguably does it much better.

Every character is referred to by a color (an idea straight out of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) so as nobody can snitch on anyone if they get caught. There's a really terrific cast here, Harvey Keitel as Mr. White, Tim Roth as Mr. Orange, Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink, Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde, Chris Penn playing Eddie and Lawrence Tierney playing Joe. They all do fantastic jobs, except for maybe Tierney. Buscemi's is my favorite performance as is Mr. Pink my favorite character.

You can still see Tarantino's style developing in here but still not quite fully developed. You have Tarantino's signature Trunk Shots and it does show off his recognizable style. The dialogue here is great (though largely irrelevant), especially the opening. It really helps that all the characters are fantastic, not that they're developed, just that they have terrific personalities. There's plenty of great long takes in here and they are all done flawlessly.

The plot is engaging throughout and really does make you think what you'd do in the same situation. Can be funny, thrilling, intense. The only part that felt kind of off to me was the Mr. Orange back-story, I felt like the film spent a little too much time with that. Minor complaint though.

Some complain about the pacing or structure (not many mind you), I thought it was pretty good though. I'd easily cite it as an example of flashbacks done right. I felt the film flowed very nicely. I think the film could of benefited if it worked a little more mystery in, but I guess it worked out fine.

Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs

The soundtrack is great, as with all Tarantino films.

I like the fact that aside from the big name actors, it's a very simple film. It really didn't take a whole lot to make. From the first scene with some guys talking in a diner, to the warehouse where most of the film takes place. It's a small-scale film, and that's what I usually prefer. It is an independent film after all (though it had a 1.5 million dollar budget), and started out as a very small project for Tarantino but eventually grew much bigger.

Reservoir Dogs diner

As well with all Tarantino films, it's not a highly original film, sure it has that Tarantino feel to it, but nearly all its elements are borrowed. Nonetheless it is a worthy entry into the Crime genre and one of the best heists-gone-wrong films, a gangster tragedy. The ending was kind of meh, it was completely void of logic to me, but I guess that was the point. 

Reservoir Dogs suits

If it wasn't for the more than stellar performances (Buscemi especially) this film would get a much lower rating (3 stars, maybe 3.5). Watch it, it's definitely enjoyable and is a great movie. If you're a sucker for Buscemi and Roth, than you'll love this. 

4.5/5 stars

Purchase Reservoir Dogs on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD - Stream

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