Reservoir Dogs

Drawing inspiration from a number of sources, including Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing and Hong Kong action movies, Tarantino’s violent and skilfully wrought debut turns the gangster thriller inside out. This tale about a heist which goes disastrously wrong focuses more on the aftermath of the failed robbery than on its planning and execution. Reconstructing in retrospect, and from a variety of points of view, the events surrounding the bloody debacle, the script employs an almost self-referential, novelistic structure that was to become a hallmark of Tarantino’s approach. The overlapping, often conflicting stories told by the thievesonow holed up in an abandoned warehouseooffer only fragments of the big picture, like images reflected and refracted in a broken mirror. Communication between the interested parties is made all the more difficult by their knowing each other only by designated code names: Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) and Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn). Mistrust and suspicion cause the protagonists to tear each other apart, and Tarantino engineers their demise from the interaction of their character flaws. The film mixes humour and violence to unsettling effect, as in the infamous sequence where the sadistic Mr. Blonde tortures a cop to the accompaniment of a kitschy seventies’ pop song. In retrospect, the use of such provocative set pieces seems far less questionable than claimed by Tarantino’s critics of the day, who made the sequence appear far more gratuitous and explicit than was the case.

U.S.A., 1992.
Dolby stereo.
100 mins.

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