Have you seen Reservoir Dogs?
The blistering directorial debut from Quentin Tarantino?
Even though it was released over twenty-five years ago, it feels like it came out yesterday. It has a timeless intensity. The cast consisted of up and comers like Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Steve Buscemi.
Put the new guys in with grizzled veterans like Harvey Keitel and 40’s tough guy Lawrence Tierney. Together they have a chemistry that sizzles. A fantastic script with several unique gimmicks that put a new spin on a tired genre coupled with the close direction that gives the performances room to breathe.
This is a classic film that will stand the test of time.
What makes Reservoir Dogs so good?
“It’s cool” I hear you say at the other side of the monitor.
Fair enough, but what does it mean to be “cool”?
Cool can only get you so far.
Let’ open the boot and look inside.
Now before you read on, let me acknowledge that better writers and more professional film analysis on Reservoir Dogs are out there.
Would you mind indulging me because Reservoir Dogs is close to my heart? (not as close as Pulp Fiction but we’ll leave that for another day).
Oh and before you read on if you haven’t seen the film, what have you been doing? There’s gonna be spoilers for Reservoir Dogs.
He was a fool for love.
For all the coolness, tough guys and violence, there is a love story at the heart of Reservoir Dogs. It’s a love between father and son. Not flesh and blood father and son Joe Cabot and “Nice Guy” Eddie but Mr White and Mr Orange.
These two form a bond, it’s subtle, you see it when Mr White holds Mr Orange’s hand after he’s been shot. When White combs a wounded Orange’s hair.
These two characters connect, and it is Mr White’s concern for him that gives us as an audience someone to root for.
Mr White is a likeable character, you see that through the care he takes with Mr Orange. If Mr White didn’t care about Mr Orange and left him to die on the street, the audience would have no one to root for, and the film would not be held in as high regard.
Sadly Mr White lives in a world of bad guys and double-crossers. For showing some humanity he pays dearly.
Torture you, that’s a good idea.
When Reservoir Dogs came out, there was controversy about the violence in the film.
Tarantino stated that in film, you never get praised for doing violence well.
On rewatching you’ll find that the film isn’t as violent as you remember. Much of the violence takes place in your mind’s eye.
The infamous ear slicing occurs off-camera and in your head.
What Reservoir Dogs does different and what got it an 18 certificate in the UK is that it shows you the effects that violence has. It shows you the aftermath of the violence. You see what happens after shots are fired after the wounds are inflicted, which was rare for movies of the time and even movies today.
What happens if the manager won’t give you the diamonds?
The last point that I want to make is that the film is a masterclass in suspense. The structure of the film has a lot to do with it. The heist itself is never shown. You would think in a movie about a robbery they would show the theft. Not the case instead, Tarantino treats the audience with respect and leaves you to piece the information together yourself. Do you trust the stories of the criminals, did the cops shoot Mr Blue or did Mr Blonde?
Another masterstroke is how Tarantino will jump back in time as we see with the title cards.
If you had known Mr Orange was the rat from the start, then that would change the balance of the film. There wouldn’t be the mystery element of who sold them out to the cops, and you wouldn’t be as hooked.
It’s not the acts of violence itself that are part of the films appeal it’s knowing that it’s coming. When Mr Blond is left alone with the beat cop, after being repeatedly told that he is a psychopath, it’s not a case of will something terrible happen but when?
Reservoir Dogs Conclusion
I could go on forever about this film, but that will do us in the meantime. Thank you for reading and hope that you will consider giving Reservoir Dogs a rewatch.