• James Rutherford

'Reservoir Dogs': Quentin Tarantino’s Enormously Influential, Neo-Classic Crime Thriller


Movie poster for Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs starring Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth

“Reservoir Dogs” (1992) is the landmark feature film debut of writer/director Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction”, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”), built around the stages of preparation for a daring diamond heist as well as the subsequent aftermath—the crew of bandits desperately scrambling back to their secluded warehouse sanctuary.


The film stars Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot, a career criminal who partners with his son “Nice Guy” Eddie Cabot (Chris Penn) to recruit a cadre of tough guys to execute the holdup. Using aliases to mask their true identities, Joe brands each of them according to color code: “Mr. White” (Harvey Keitel), “Mr. Orange” (Tim Roth), “Mr. Blonde” (Michael Madsen), “Mr. Pink” (Steve Buscemi), “Mr. Blue” (Eddie Bunker) and “Mr. Brown” (Tarantino). Tarantino purposely fragments the story’s narrative, shifting from playful histrionics to bloody consequences and fierce recrimination, while pointedly avoiding depiction of the actual robbery. His focus instead rests on idiosyncratic characterizations, his now-emblematic style of dialogue and hints of narrative trappings that ultimately play out in the most jarring and unexpected of manners.


A major jolt to the film industry in the early 1990’s, “Reservoir Dogs” is highly regarded as a touchstone of independent cinema that opened the door to a whole new era of visionary arthouse filmmaking. It’s a remarkable achievement for a former video store clerk who bypassed film school to teach himself film craft through careful analysis of thousands of VHS recordings. With “Reservoir Dogs” he delivers a fierce, provocative and remarkably bloody affair that will keep you guessing right through to it’s shocking and utterly arresting conclusion.

 

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