Quentin Tarantino’s first film Reservoir Dogs, made in 1992, is a great heist film that never actually shows a heist. The film had a small budget and utilized character drama, a kickass soundtrack, and limited sets to bring forth an intense experience. It follows the assembly of a heist crew to steal some diamonds. All the heistmen have been assigned code names but after the heist goes sour and the cops are closing in, they all have to start getting to know each other, but the deeper they dig, the more likely it is that everything will come crashing down around them.
From the start of his career Tarantino’s signature style bursts forth, because this film thrives on character, dialogue, and brutal violence. The story unfolds in non-linear fashion. It starts after the crew’s been assembled and introduces the viewer to each character through a great diner sequence. It then moves into a kickass opening title sequence that makes men walking through an ally in black suits seem like the coolest fucking thing you will ever see and will make you want to have the song “Little Green Bag” as the theme that plays anytime you ever walk anywhere.
After that, it cuts to a scene that occurs after the heist showing how bad things went. It moves on to more character interactions that take place post-heist, as the film progresses into chapters focused on different characters, and their recruitment and planning process. Some scenes of the escape from the heist provide for the action and crank the intensity up to eleven, even though the heist they are fleeing from is never shown. This non-linear storytelling style keeps the viewer guessing and lets us know more about the characters. I always wondered “what if Tarantino actually had the budget to show the heist? Would he even show it?” I can’t think of a point in this film where the heist would actually fit in well, and not ruin the flow of the film. Maybe at the very beginning, but that diner scene is so perfect that I wouldn’t want to sacrifice it to include the heist.
The four stars of the film are Harvey Keitel as Mr. White, Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde, Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink, and Tim Roth as Mr. Blue. All of them deliver amazing performances, especially Buscemi and Madsen. Tarantino knows which actors work perfectly for his scripts, and he knows how to bring out the sleazy criminal in them. The interaction between them is unforgettable and I can still clearly quote lines of dialogue from this movie. I’m certain Steve Buscemi’s performance as Mr. Pink inspired the character of Leo Patterson as both have the same mentality and facial hair. Mr. Blonde is my favorite Tarantino character (besides Go Go Yubari) and is one of the most brutal, yet strangely hilarious characters ever conceived.
I can’t tell if this is my least favorite Tarantino film, or my all time favorite Tarantino film. I think some of his other films are better, and I continually tell myself Kill Bill is my favorite, but everytime I watch Reservoir Dogs I find a new reason to appreciate it. It’s a great heist film (without a heist) and holds up as a promising start of a great director.
Favorite Scene: The “Ear Scene”: an unforgettable moment in an unforgettable film.
Written By Tyler Ducheneaux
Images From ‘Reservoir Dogs’