Review Rewind: ‘Reservoir Dogs’

The Movie: Reservoir Dogs 

The Year: 1992

The People: Harvey Keitel as Mr. White; Tim Roth as Mr. Orange; Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink; Michael Madsen as the psychopathic Mr. Blonde; Quentin Tarantino as the first-time feature film director, Mr. Brown; Edward Bunker as Mr. Blue; Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie Cabot; and Lawrence Tierney as the gruff Joe Cabot.

The Non-Revealing Plot: A failed diamond heist by six for-hire criminals, who only know each other’s aliases, leads to a search for the undercover cop within the group.

Unofficial Genre: The film is a heist film that never shows the heist itself. It could be argued that the film is more a crime drama than purely a heist action film.

My Opinion (Emotional): This movie is almost wholly violent, so it was hard to derive many emotions while watching it. None of the main characters are particularly redeeming, and some are downright evil. Only one scene, the film’s most iconic one (featuring “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel playing in the background), is guaranteed to generate an emotional response. If there had been a greater investment of the script in examining the main characters, there would be a greater emotional attachment to them. Possibly the point is to not be attached to them and their brutality; perhaps we are just meant to observe their violent ways. If that were the case, I’d rate this film lower.

My Opinion (Technical): I’m a huge fan of the work Tarantino has done with large budgets, specifically when he’s been able to use effective dialogue and plot structure while creating exciting stories, characters and settings. “Reservoir Dogs” is interesting because it’s his lowest budget film. All the brilliant dialogue is prevalent, as is the plot structure. However, I found the story being told to be a bit too minimalist. I gave that somewhat of a pass while watching, however because I understood that Tarantino was operating on a very low budget. Regardless, the amount to which the main characters were examined was much too little for my liking. In “The People” section, I couldn’t even add any descriptive language for some of the main characters because there was nothing unique about them. I felt that some shots were iconic, some lines were impeccably delivered, but not a single character stuck with me or affected me in any way. I liked the general Los Angeles setting because it wasn’t too in-your-face, and yet, it was clearly in the background of the entire movie, and set a good tone for the film.

Overall Rating: Brilliant dialogue, interesting plot structure, good setting and good acting benefited this film, while a disappointing story and a lack of character depth hindered it. I’d give this film a 7.2 out of 10.

If You Like This, You’ll Also Like: Pulp Fiction (1994), The Departed (2006) and The Hateful Eight (2015). Yes, it’s low-hanging fruit to suggest two other movies made by the same person but, hey, there’s no dialogue writer like Tarantino. “Pulp Fiction,” specifically, is a good recommendation as I see it as an upgraded version of “Reservoir Dogs,” albeit with different stories and plot themes.