'Reservoir Dogs' Review

Updated on April 3, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

People often say that when it comes to films, nothing beats the original (usually associated with sequels or prequels comparing to the first film in the franchise). In some cases, that can also be said of a director’s line of work.

Quentin Tarantino is one of those rare, talented few directors who didn’t have to have an IMDB page a mile long with dozens and dozens of movies. He hasn’t even made 10 films yet and he’s long been established as one of the greatest and most noteworthy directors in cinematic history. But all of his fame, his awards and his cinematic status began when he made a (then) little known film in 1992 called Reservoir Dogs.

I first saw this when I was about 11 years old, recommended by some older friends. I didn’t think much of it. It was boring. Why was there all this dialogue? Two years later, I revisited the movie and I quickly found out that Tarantino truly made something immortal and special when he made this heist film. Ironically starting after the heist, codenamed crooks Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) are part of a crew of professionals hired to rob diamonds from a bank in broad daylight.

However, things quickly spiral out of control due to the psychotic actions of Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen). Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) gets shot and talks of a rat hiding amongst the crew, which will divide and destroy this team before they can enjoy their stolen benefits.

Despite the fact Tarantino was unable to produce the funds to show the bank heist scene itself (this is a very cheaply produced film mind you), it actually serves in the film’s favor in my opinion. This is a character-driven film. It’s not really about jewels, about crime, or about heists. It’s about getting to know the people who are investing their lives in these kinds of things.

It’s an all-male driven cast that, in my opinion, gets the best performances out of these actors in their entire careers (yes, even compared to their latter films). Tarantino deeply enthralls you in the plight of these criminals, making every step and clue feel enticing and necessary to build towards the mystery that’s shaken them to resort to drastic measures. Too often criminals in films carry guns and act like it makes them tough or it means something threatening, it desensitizes the threat of the weapon and utterly demeans any chance the character will be taken seriously.

When White and Pink are aiming guns at each other, you feel it. You feel the intensity of the conflict and can understand how men like this could react in such a way. The real scene stealers though are Madsen and Roth as Blonde and Orange. They are perfect representations of good and evil, the depths of which are expertly kept secret until the characters reveal it at the most crucial and effective scenes in the film.

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Taratino’s films have gotten expectedly grander in scale as the years have gone by. With scouted settings like Japan (Kill Bill), Germany (Inglorious Bastards) and the wilderness of the Wild West (Django Unchained and The Hateful 8), it easily makes Reservoir Dogs warehouse-dominated backdrop look pitiful and cheap.

But remember, every great figure had to start at the bottom at one point, and if this is considered the bottom for Tarantino, he had nowhere else to go but way, way up. As much as I love Pulp Fiction, Django and Inglorious Basterds, I must admit a bit of personal preference and admiration for the stellar work he achieved on such a smaller scale and platform as Reservoir Dogs. His excellently written characters and simple yet effectively compelling drama made these criminals worth watching from bloody beginning to even bloodier end.

Many say Tarantino bores and drags his films on with excessively lengthy conversations and explanations that have become his trademarks. However, I never felt bored with this cast. Frankly, I never wanted the brilliant dialog to end or slowdown in anyway shape or form.

Reservoir Dogs may be Tarantino’s rusty first crack at directing, but it’s probably my personal favorite or second best and one of his absolute best, even compared to his more expensive and globally expansive films.

Movie Details

Title: Reservoir Dogs

Release Year: 1992

Director(s): Quentin Tarantino

Actors: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn a.o.

5 stars for Reservoir Dogs

© 2019 Sam Shepards

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