Title: Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Chris Penn
The movie follows the exploits of an assemblage of criminals recruited by Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and his son ‘Nice Guy Eddie’ (Penn). Some of them are friends of theirs, while others are new to the fold. They don’t know each other’s names, so no one can rat to the police if they’re caught. They are given colour-coded names, so that they can call themselves something when conversing. The big plan is a fairly routine jewellery store heist, but things go seriously awry after someone sets off the alarms. This leads to everyone heading for the warehouse that was chosen as their meeting point. Only some of them make it and Mr. Orange (Roth) has been gut-shot and is slowly dying in agony. Little do they know that he is also an undercover cop, who is intent on bringing them all down. As suspicions rise as to who cocked the supposedly easy job, they begin to turn on each other, leading to a chaotic outcome.
Harvey Keitel was the most well known of the actors at the time and gave a performance befitting of his talent and legend. Without Keitel’s involvement the movie would not have had the same impact. His appearance gave the low-budget film much more credibility. Steve Buscemi gives a typically motor-mouthed performance as the easily angered Mr. Pink. Tim Roth, who is British, has an impeccable American accent and went on to star in several later Tarantino movies. Michael Madsen gives a career defining performance as the violent but cool, Mr. Blonde.
This was the 29 year old Tarantino’s first film and he certainly started off with a bang. From the offset, Reservoir Dogs is not short of controversy. The most famous scene is of course the ear slicing scene, which is unfortunately the stereotypical image that Tarantino haters conjure up every time this film is mentioned. Also borrowing liberally from the outset, the colour-coded names are lifted from the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) and the black and white suits had been done in Chinese action films in the eighties. Thankfully, Tarantino was so good at incorporating these flourishes; it comes across as admiration rather than thievery.
Reservoir Dogs is packed full of quality dialogue and highly memorable scenes. That Tarantino made such a good movie on his first attempt with such a small budget (just over 1 million apparently) showed what a talent he would become. A film you are not likely to forget in a hurry.