Nov 22, 2017

[Movies] Reservoir Dogs (1992) Review

It was watching a not quite recent Nerdwriter video that I was reminded that I had yet to watch Reservoir Dogs, the movie that helped put Quentin Tarantino on the map for many. And thus an exploration of the iflix library led to a sudden viewing session as I wanted to scratch this particular itch. This was especially pressing given how often I had encountered references to movie in so many other works of fiction.

Despite the mentions and how long this movie has been around, I largely had no idea what the movie was about apart from everyone having a color-based alias and that's it. I went in with a general expectation of violence and something somewhat akin to a heist and I suppose I wasn't too far off the mark in the end.

It's interesting how he movie in itself didn't feel too old but the way it was directed sort of did, at least with respect to Tarantino's body of work. And that was rather striking about it as well, I suppose. There's a lot of pick apart in this movie.

Synopsis: Reservoir Dogs is a 1992 American crime movie written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Empire once named it as the Greatest Independent Film of All time.

The story begins with 8 men eating at a diner - 6 having color-based aliases such as Mr. Blue and Mr. Pink. The others are a mob boss Joe (Lawrence Tierney) and and his son Eddie (Chris Penn). The father and son have put together a job for the others and have controlled everything down to their knowledge of one another's identities.

But then we dive right into the action as the story is not told in sequence. Thus we first see Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) driving at speed while Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is bleeding in the back seat due to a gunshot wound. We jump about the timeline as we hear of people being dead, others missing and then we also see how some off them met or at least how they interacted.

And we also learn that there's a lot more to Mr. Orange and how he got involved with this crew.

What I Liked: In true Tarantino fashion, the story is remarkably clever. While the likes of Shyamalan are known for surprise twists, Tarantino is a skilled storyteller. And this movie is crafted masterfully in a manner that gives us all the parts of the narrative but we don't know which part goes where. But you hold onto the pieces that you have with a certain degree of excitement because you start to see the overall shape of things as you progress through the movie.

And there is a phenomenal team gathered in this movie with a young Tim Roth, who would go on to work with him across several other film projects over the years. And you also get to see his evolving aesthetic that was very closely related to Pulp Fiction but would continue to evolve in future movies. It's all rather fascinating and exciting.

What Could Have Been Better: Not every bit is great of course and you can see a lot of rough edges in this movie in terms of the composition of various scenes, how people were directed and what they were shot. Some moments are great and some bits are a little awkward, but that's all part of the learning process of better mastering one's film techniques.

The sheer number of characters means that you also get a little lost and halfway through the movie you'll  be struggling to remember who is who and what they were supposed to be doing. While his non-sequential timeline idea was clever, it still could have benefited from a stronger intro that would help us better appreciate some of the characters before things went crazy.

TL;DR: Reservoir Dogs is indeed a powerful movie and a great start that understandably helped get Tarantino better recognized, thus enabling him to continue his journey as a filmmaker. Sure it had all the usual violence and the swearing and the shock moments, but what really drives the movie is the story. The movie gets a great 4 revelations about the various characters out of a possible 5.


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