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Reservoir Dogs (1992)

December 16, 2009

9/10 Ear Infections

Arguably Tarantino’s best movie. I’m not the one arguing it, but it’s up there all the same.

Reservoir Dogs is about a group of criminals that get together for a routine jewel heist, but things don’t exactly go according to plan when they show up for the job and the cops are there waiting to ambush them. So the remaining fellows who manage to shoot their way out head on back to their safe house and try to figure out which one of them is the cop who screwed them all over. They all have guns, they yell a lot, and the shit hits the fan awfully fast.

But why it’s called Reservoir Dogs, I do not know.

I don’t know what took me so long, but it’s high time I got around to this one. When it comes to game changing debut efforts, there aren’t a whole lot of movies out there – at least in the last two decades – that rival this bad boy in terms of dialogue, character, structure, and seriously in-your-face violence. It’s a tough movie to get through, but it’s hard to take your eyes off it, and you sure as hell won’t be able to listen to “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Steelers Wheel the same way ever again.

Tarantino does a lot of things right here, but the thing he does best – and always does best – is that he knows how to write one damn good script. Yeah, the action scenes are pretty wild and the plot line will have you on the edge of your seat for a good long while, but the thing I dig the most about this movie isn’t when guys are shoving guns in the each others’ faces, it’s all the cool, normal stuff that comes out of their mouths that I can’t get enough of. It’s the same thing with Pulp Fiction and the “Royale with cheese.” Of all the things to take away from such a totally nutso movie, everyone remembers “Royale with cheese.” Bizarre, but I get it.

But it’s all about the characters here and that’s what makes it interesting. Anyone could put a handful of mean dudes in a warehouse and have them shoot it out, but the reason it’s different here is because Tarantino cares about his characters and cares about them having a voice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Tarantino’s movies are an exercise in cool and his characters are no exception. The whole color-coded criminals thing (a blatant tribute to The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) – so damn cool. Everyone’s got their favorite character (Mr. Blonde) and there some damn good ones to choose from.

Going off that note – Michael Madsen, what a fucking psycho. I don’t know what it is I liked about his totally unlikable character, but it worked. Probably has to do with the way he just played it all off like it was nothing, but, man, at least he has this role going for him because he hasn’t done squat since.

Harvey Keitel is pretty boss as Mr. White, which is pretty much a given, Tarantino’s not so bad as Mr. Brown, same goes for Tim Roth as Mr. Orange, but the other real standout here is Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink. Part of me is tempted to say that people like Mr. Pink a lot just because he’s called Mr. Pink, but then again, it’s Steve Buscemi. That guy needs to go back to doing more wild roles like this and Fargo because he is a fun dude to watch.

I also think Chris Penn is great as Nice Guy Eddie. Something about that tracksuit…

Look, this movie isn’t for everyone. This isn’t the kind of thing you want to accidentally recommend to the wrong person and nearly traumatize them, because I’d be lying if I said I don’t still cringe at that ear lopping scene (which also happens to be a really, really well done scene). But for the rest of you out there in the choir, Reservoir Dogs sure does kick ass, huh? It’s great to watch movies and think to yourself after, “Wow. I’ve never seen that before.” I tended to do that a lot when I first started watching Tarantino movies, and there’s good reason for it.

Great soundtrack, great script, great directing, great acting, great opening credits, great everything. What a crazy movie.

And I freakin’ love Steven Wright as the K-Billy DJ. Awesome casting choice.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Branden permalink
    December 16, 2009 2:30 pm

    Hold the phone. Was this your FIRST viewing on this movie?

    • December 16, 2009 2:53 pm

      No way, man. Seen this one a bunch of times.

      • Branden permalink
        December 16, 2009 3:02 pm

        Oh, good. Phew!

  2. December 16, 2009 7:20 pm

    Yeah I was waiting for you to finally get to this. I liked this film a whole lot too. The one great thing that Tarantino does is that you want to hear his characters talk more and more. Nice Review!!

  3. December 17, 2009 2:09 am

    Great review chief. To be honest, I only saw Reservoir Dogs for the first a couple months ago. Shame on me!

  4. March 16, 2010 9:30 am

    As much as I don’t like to rain on the love parade and I do try to keep my Tarantino dislike to myself, I didn’t care for this movies. My problem with this, and all of QT’s efforts, what you describe as cool I describe as him taking ideas from other films/directors and removing all the cool from them so that they are annoying and played out instead.

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