"Reservoir Dogs" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
The opening scene for "Reservoir Dogs" shows eight men at a diner, discussing what the meaning is behind Madonna's hit song, "Like a Virgin". It then shifts to whether or not tipping should be required for waitresses at a diner. Neither of these two topics have anything to do with the film, yet they fit perfectly within the context of this film, as well as setting the tone that this movie will be a more lighthearted film than it actually is, as well as classifying who the characters are in this movie. This is the basis for what type of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is, to expect the unexpected in every one of his films. Tarantino, who is now known as one of the best and most influential filmmakers of all time, is able to show what he is capable of in this amazing film, kicking off the successful career of my personal favorite director.
The eight men in the diner consist of six robbers: Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Brown (Tarantino), and Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker), as well as their boss, Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and his son, Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn). The six robbers do not know each other's name or their histories, and only know one another by their pseudonyms and what they look like. They are hired by Cabot to carry out a diamond heist, and they are sure they are going to pull it off without a hitch.
We then jump to White and Orange driving in a car, with Orange bleeding out from a bullet in the stomach. They get back to the rendezvous point, where the viewer finds out that the cops ambushed the robbers by the time they got there, revealing a police informant is in on their job. Now pitted against one another, the four men who survived the heist must now figure out what to do next, and try to find the mole within their group.
This film could easily work as a Broadway production as it plays out mostly in one setting. Tarantino takes his characters and place them in this one place, which forces the characters to fight and figure out what is going on. However, because of this, it puts them in a cabin fever-type of setting, similar to one that viewers experienced with Jack Torrance in "The Shining". Throughout the runtime, you can see the mental and emotional decay that is taking place with all the characters, and it leads to the epic conclusion at the end of this film.
The actors all give amazing performances. They each are able to craft their own unique character, and there are so many different aspects to each other's performance that you're able to easily tell them apart and their own motives. Keitel and Roth serve as the main characters, in a way, and I think they're both so effortlessly embody these characters and are great at playing off one another. At the same time, when looking at Madsen's performance as Blonde, it is absolutely breathtaking. Consider the scene where he is terrorizing the cop and slices his ear off towards the middle of the film. It's almost terrifying in a way, but Madsen is so perfectly able to embody this role. I honestly couldn't even imagine a better actor to play this role.
The story and the screenplay move at a fantastic pace, and contains some of that beautiful Tarantino dialogue that is so famous. None of the lines or conversations seem dry, and as a viewer, you're hanging on to every word that these characters say. At the same time, I adore the fact that Tarantino never really showed the entire bank heist. We see glimpses here and there, but we never see the full thing of what happened. Because of that, we have to rely on the characters to walk us through what happened and to help the audience paint a picture in their head about what happened, which I think Tarantino does a terrific job doing.
Many have criticized this movie due to the graphic violence and extremely strong language, but I think this just really shows what type of characters Tarantino is trying to craft, as well as an influence to his other films. He really paved the way for many filmmakers to break the walls down on what is allowed in film, and this is the first step he took to make movies his own.
This was just the start for Tarantino, showing audiences what he was capable of at the start of his career. His next film, "Pulp Fiction", put him on the map as a brilliant filmmaker, and is easily one of the best movies of all time. However, I don't think it would have been possible to make "Pulp Fiction" without the success of this film, allowing Tarantino to really put himself out there and make the movies that he always wanted to make.