Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney
Annonimty when plotting an illicit operation brings plenty of benefits from the lack of emotional connection leading to some ruthlessness to reduced likelihood of being sold out with no one really knowing each other. However, this anonymity also breeds distrust in knowing nothing about the motivations and character of individuals you must exhibit loads of trust in. All of this culminates into what transpires in Reservoir Dogs in all of its gnarliness.
Set to rob a jewelry store for diamonds, a collection of six men known by an assigned color set out to make a big score. However, when things go very wrong and Mr. Orange (Tom Roth) gets shot during the fallout, suspicions arise of who worked with the police and sold out the team. Accusations begin to fly, and they find themselves in a time crunch of whether they figure it out before the police die or Mr. Orange bleeds out.
Opening with the famous diner scene, Quentin Tarantino begins his illustrious career in style. Centering around these men with no real names picking up on a random discussion about the true meaning of Madonna’s song “Like a Virgin,” proves what makes Tarantino special, which is his writing. Managing to establish the perspectives of these characters from the very beginning demonstrates what sets them apart and how they all have scummy traits about them. All of this occurs through what appears as innocuous conversations men would have while sitting at a diner but it gives us a sense of the players of this game, which will come to roose later in the feature when everything goes off the rails.
Following this interaction in the diner, the film then cuts to the aftermath of their robbery and ups the stakes immensely seeing as Mr. Orange lies in agony in the backseat of a car with blood everywhere. The jump immediately raises the temperature of the film and demonstrates the real troubles ahead, which makes the eventual witchhunt to find the rat that much more contentious and makes every interaction and move by these characters that much more strenuous. You can cut the tension in the room with a knife causing these characters to throw all levels of caution to the wind as they try to find the individual who deceived them.
With these characters having anonymity, throughout the feature, their personalities become even more apparent, especially when the stress of their circumstance begins to draw them out more. The most resonant emotional connection begins to form with Mr. Orange and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) as they appear in the car with the former injured and they remain in the frame for the majority of the feature. Between them, all of the pretense of their relationship and the anonymity begins to drop seeing as really bad things have occurred and the humanity of these individuals begins to shine through with the genuine concern existing. This, obviously, does not occur with every character as others show to be much more sinister in their approach in trying to find the rat. This leaves the remainder of the film taking place in this warehouse space with occasional flashbacks that have these men filter out as the plot demands but with one simple goal for all involved.
Operating as a screenplay-heavy film, so much of the success of this feature certainly goes to Tarantino as a writer, but also to the performances delivering his fantastic dialogue. Each actor brought in this feature gets a moment to shine and they definitely do not squander it with several lines delivered having stood the test of time. From Steve Buscemi’s iconic rant about his insistence on not tipping waiters to the dance Michael Madsen puts on as he inflicts some terrifying horrors on another individual, each of these characters feels defined and serves their purpose for the sake of the narrative. Well, all except poor Edward Bunker as Mr. Blue, who truly gets forgotten fairly quickly. The anonymity at that point does not matter as we get these ridiculously fun characters to follow as we see just how deranged they can get with their backs against the wall.
Feels absurd to see a film like Reservoir Dogs and know it serves as a feature film debut for Quentin Tarantino. From the very onset, it demonstrates what will make this man a legend in the filmmaking world. He takes this confident screenplay and crafts eternally memorable characters who do not receive a name of substance but certainly have distinct personalities. He brings them all together for a situation asking for madness and it certainly goes that way with these men coming for each other until the truth gets revealed. An endlessly entertaining film providing so many moments to enjoy and recollect as these actors have a ball with what they receive.