Reservoir Dogs (1992)

It’s hard to believe that Reservoir Dogs was Tarantino’s directorial debut. The film is simultaneously funny, brutal, clever, vulgar, retrospective, and introspective. This movie is a fantastic way to start a career, and remains today a film with few weakpoints.

The movie follows a group of men on a diamond heist. Hired by Joe and his son Nice Guy Eddie, the men know nothing of one another and refer to each other as their codenames, which are colors – Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, etc. There is no Mr. Black.

The story is told in the now-trademark Tarantino style of non-linearity. The criminals’ pasts are shown in seamlessly integrated flashbacks, fleshing out the character relationships as we watch them deal with a heist gone wrong. The film’s present-line plot is amazingly simple – wait in the warehouse for the others and try to figure out who the snitch could be. The execution of this story, with revelations at perfect points, is what makes the movie so outstanding.

The acting helps as well. Tarantino uses actors who are undoubtedly familiar but not A-list stars and brings out fantastic performances from all of them. I don’t think I’d be starting any arguments if I said that this was Steve Buscemi’s greatest role. It may be in the way Tarantino uses his camera, employing long, unbreaking shots that allow the actors to act out their scenes more theatrically. The signature clever and lengthy dialogues are uninterrupted by editing, and the characters seem more realistic and natural because of it.

What proves Reservoir Dog‘s quality is its re-watchability. Every time you see this film, you can pick up even the smallest bit of dialogue that you may not have heard, and because Tarantino crafts it so carefully, every bit is worth hearing. Tarantino uses his dialogue and backstories, as well as his talented cast, to make compelling characters. In fact, one of the shortcomings of the movie is the relatively little amount of information we know about its characters. When they’re so interesting and well-acted, you can’t help but want to know more, but sadly, the film leaves many things unaddressed.

Besides that, the only other complaint I have about the film is Tim Roth’s somewhat abrasive acting while he’s bleeding to death. I’m not saying it isn’t good, but it does get a little irritating after repeated views. Agonizing screams aside, the film is also a pleasant one to listen to. The soundtrack is truly upstanding, with a collection of music that meshes together well worked diogenicaly in with Stephen Wright as a deadpan broadcaster.

Between his long, flowing, continuous shots and his ear for a badass soundtrack, as well as a fantastic job by the cast of the movie, Tarantino made his first feature film a classic. As long as you can stand some violence, there is no reason that you shouldn’t see Reservoir Dogs.

Final rating: 9/10

–James A. Janisse


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