Every Thursday I Discuss one of the movies that makes me love film
76. Reservoir Dogs
“’Like a Virgin’ is all about a girl who digs a guy with a big dick.” That is the sentence that introduced the world to Quentin Tarantino. Even more surreal is it being said by a bunch of conmen in matching black suits and ties sitting in a diner. These men discuss Madonna and tipping and then finally they leave the diner.
A sudden jump cut later we see Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) driving a car and in the back is Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) bleeding from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. They arrive at a warehouse, the rendezvous point for the clearly blotched jewel heist. Mr. Pink (Steve Buschemi) shows up shortly after them convinced that one of them is a rat.
Suddenly a flashback reveals Mr. White’s long-time friendship with Joe Cabot, the gangster who organized the heist.
Back in the Warehouse Pink and White discuss the actions of the clearly psychopathic Mr. Blonde (Micahel Madden) who murdered several civilians. White is angry that Joe would put someone so crazy on the job. Then they begin to argue over if they should take Orange to a hospital. Mr. Blonde comes out of the shadows and tells them that they should all stay point until Joe’s son, Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) arrives. He also takes them outside and shows them police officer he’s kidnapped and held hostage.
Another sudden flash back reveals Mr. Blonde as a long time friend of Eddie and Joe. He did four years in prison for them but returned to their services immediately after being released.
Eddie arrives in a fury but is pleased to hear that Mr. Pink managed to get the diamonds. Eddie tells Pink & White to go with him to retrive the diamonds and tells Blonde to stay with the cop and the dying Orange. Immediately after the men leave Blonde begins to torture the police officer by dancing to a song on the radio, cutting off the officer’s ear and then pouring gasoline on him with intentions of setting him on fire. His plan is cut short though when he is shot and killed by Mr. Orange.
Orange reveals he is an undercover cop and through a series of flashbacks we see the planning of the heist, the receving of code-names and how Orange was shot.
White, Pink and Eddie return to the warehouse to find Blonde dead. Orange claims that Blonde was going to kill the cop, then him and then all three of them and take the jewels. Eddie doesn’t buy it and immediately shots the cop. Joe shows up shortly afterwards and immediately accuses Orange of being an informant. White defends Orange and eventually they all end up in a Mexican standoff. They all fire their guns killing Joe and Eddie and mortally wounding White. Mr. Pink grabs the jewels and makes a run for it while White goes to comfort his friend Orange.
Orange reveals to White that he is in fact an undercover cop. White begins to cry and then pulls out a gun and points it at Orange’s head. Police enter the warehouse just as White kills Orange causing the police to fire and kill White.
In the first 15 minutes with the opening conversation and the slow-motion walk (call it a Scorsese rip-off or homage which each you choose) let an entire generation know what Tarantino was all about. It didn’t take long to realize that he’s a great dialogue writer, knows how to set up a shot and knows his shit about Pop Culture
Tarantino helps give us iconic characters each with their own personalities despite them dressing the same. Steve Buschemi in one of his greatest performance gives us Mr. Pink easily the one most memorable character in movie (second only to Mr. Blonde). Mr. Pink is smart, sarcastic and angry, he always thinks of things in the big picture and as he stated multiple times throughout the movie, he’s a fucking professional. Mr. Blonde however is a dangerous psychopath, he loves to torture people but even more disturbing is the calm way he carries himself. Finally there’s Mr. White, while the whole film is an Anti-hero movie; Mr. White is the definition of anti-hero, he’s a thief and a murder but yet he’s so damn cool you want to hang out with him yourself.
Reservoir Dogs was made on a very modest budget forcing Tarantino to utilize the power of less is more (something he does utilize nearly as much now). Due to the low budget the film place off almost like the Jewel Heist version of 12 Angry Men. Over half the movie is inside the warehouse. More interestingly though is that it’s a jewel heist movie where we see everything except that actual heist. We see the planning and the aftermath but that’s it. And we only see those things through flashbacks.
You can’t talk about this film without brining up the infamous ear-cutting scene, which I horrifying but is made much worse by not showings us as much as it could. It’s dark and horrible but at the same time, you find yourself laughing. That’s one of the biggest Tarantino gifts. He has a gift of creating the darkest of dark humor, something he only perfected in his follow up Pulp Fiction.
Pulp Fiction is his masterpiece, but it’s not a perfect movie… Reservoir Dogs is as perfect as it gets.