Reservoir Dogs

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MEN IN BLACK...

Jul 15, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Direction, Screenplay, Acting, Sound

Cons:None, a genre classic. Not for the squeamish, however.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino has established himself as one of the hottest directors in Hollywood with the smash hit “Reservoir Dogs”. Since its release, the movie has become a cult favorite, with discussion groups, fan clubs, and Internet websites devoted exclusively to it. It has also spawned countless copycat films hoping to cash in on the elusive formula of success. Oddly enough, even Tarantino has never made a better film; more successful yes, better, no.

Basically what Hollywood would once classify as a B movie, Reservoir Dogs took the public by storm with its stylish soundtrack punctuated with staccato f-words and graphic violence with enough ketchup to float a million French fries.

Before the opening credits the scene looks in on a nondescript diner with the protagonists finishing breakfast and discussing various pop songs. Mr. Brown, AKA Quentin Tarantino, exhaustively analyzes Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” himself. The camera revolves around the table looking at the faces. It is not apparent on first viewing, but Tarantino uses this scene to firmly establish the characters’ roles from the very start. Harvey Keitel (Mr. White) has his initial contest of wills with mastermind Lawrence Tierney (Joe Cabot). Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde) offers to shoot Keitel for Joe. Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink) stubbornly refuses to leave a tip, protesting his personal convictions. Tim Roth (Mr. Orange) rats out Mr. Pink when Joe returns from paying the check and notices the tip is short. Chris Penn (Nice Guy Eddie), Joe’s son, establishes himself as daddy’s boy. All of these characteristics will be reprised as the movie plays out.

The seven men leave the diner and walk slow-mo towards the camera, the credits roll, introducing the actors. The soundtrack plays “Little Green Bag”, by George Baker Selection, establishing the pop flavor of the movie. You notice that the five with color names are all wearing the same black suit, white shirt, and skinny black tie, like from the 50s. In addition, they all wear wrap around sunglasses. The only ones wearing different clothes are Tierney and Penn. The scene seems like homage to the “Blues Brothers”.

We are treated to the first of Tarantino’s trademark out-of-sequence scenes. The scene opens on a white car interior covered in ketchup, with Tim Roth rolling around in agony in the back seat while Harvey Keitel drives and holds his hand. Tim is screaming and crying and Harvey is comforting him, telling him Joe will get him a doctor. What went wrong? They arrive at the rendezvous, a deserted warehouse, and go inside. Keitel helps Roth to lie down and comforts him, telling him everything will be fine.

The rest of the action, at least 80% takes place in that warehouse and it is mainly long shots of dialog between the various characters. The remaining 20% is devoted to patented Tarantino flashbacks, filling in details of what went on before in the various characters lives.

Mr. Pink enters the warehouse and White turns to him, Orange having passed out in a pool of ketchup. Somebody ratted us out! Recriminations fly back and forth, guns are drawn and reholstered. Tension is high. What happened? From the dialog, we learn Brown was killed, shot in the head. Blonde had started the bloodbath, shooting employees and customers of the jewelry store once the alarm was pulled. Nobody knows what happened to Blue. Pink has the diamonds, safely stashed. Pink wants to leave with the diamonds and they begin to argue again. The camera pulls back and there is Blonde, leaning against a pillar drinking a soft drink from a fast food cup. Recriminations begin to fly once again. Guns are pulled and reholstered, etc. Madsen has some choice lines. One is “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?” Blonde asks them to come outside and look at something. They finally agree and find he has a police officer in the trunk of his Cadillac. “You’re a piece of work, my friend,” says a grinning White.

Back in the warehouse, the hapless cop becomes the basis for Michael Madsen’s big scene, and establishes Blonde as one of the most sadistic characters ever to be captured on film.

Interspersed between the present of the warehouse, we see brief glimpses of the background of White, Orange, Blonde, and Pink, and their various interactions with Joe Cabot, Nice Guy Eddie, and how the robbery went down.

The final act plays out when Joe Cabot arrives. He knows the rat is Orange, still lying in a pool of ketchup, having killed psychotic Blonde, also covered in ketchup. Nice Guy Eddie had killed the police officer. More ketchup.

Joe points his gun at Orange. White, who has developed a fatherly concern for Orange, points his gun at Joe saying, “If you kill that man, you die next.” Eddie points his gun at White. It is a three way standoff. Eddie goes berserk, shoots White, Joe shoots Orange, and White shoots Joe and Eddie. All are lying still in pools of ketchup. Pink crawls out from under a ramp, takes the satchel of diamonds and leaves the warehouse. From inside the warehouse, we hear the car start and drive off. Sirens sound, shots are heard. “Get out of the car.” “Keep your hands where I can see them.” The video fades to black. Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut” plays.

Quentin Tarantino could well be the Orson Welles of today, and Reservoir Dogs his Citizen Kane. The reputation that Welles had for off-beat stories creatively told is legendary. Tarantino, with this one and a few more under his belt like Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown has already attained creative success that most directors can only dream of. I only hope that his track record so far is indicative of good things to come from this talented writer and director.

Reservoir Dogs has rich dialog and character development. The movie will have you thinking for days after you first view it and you will probably need to see it again several times to get all the nuances that are in there. The soundtrack is punctuated by simulated radio airplay by rock ‘n’ roll stations, written by Tarantino, and featuring some of the most intelligent use of pop music I’ve ever seen.

The violence, which is more suggested than actually shown, will turn a lot of people off, as will the incessant profanity, but this film is a must for people serious about film. In fact, you should own this film. Go out and buy it now. Tell them George sent you…







Recommend this product? Yes

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