Review by Andrew Hicks|
3 stars out of 4
On the basis of this film alone, I never would have
predicted that, in two years, Quentin Tarantino would become the
country's biggest hotshot director. RESERVOIR DOGS has hints
of the Tarantino brilliance that emerged in PULP FICTION, but is a
much less substantive, more conventional crime story than the big
PF. Here's what the two movies do have in common...
--Scenes of intelligent, amusing dialogue with no relevance to the plot
--A story that jumps back and forth in time rather than going in a
logical, chronological sequence
--Graphic yet necessary violence
--An engaging crime story
--Dialogue liberally spiced with swear words and racial/gender slurs
--Three of the same actors (Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Steve Buscemi)
--A Mexican standoff ending, although this one is considerably less optimistic
RESERVOIR DOGS is an entire hour shorter than PULP
FICTION because it's only got one story to tell rather than three.
Crime lord Joe Cabot (veteran actor Lawrence Tierney) has
assembled five criminals who have never even met each other to pull
a diamond store heist. The five are instructed not to reveal their real
names or personal details or anything the cops could use if one of
them was captured and interrogated. Instead, they are all given code
names off the color chart -- Mr. White (Keitel), Mr. Pink (Buscemi),
Mr. Orange (Roth), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Brown
(Tarantino) and Mr. Peach (Tarantino's chin).
Most of the movie's running time is spent with Mr.
White and Pink waiting at a warehouse for the others to arrive.
Mr. Orange, meanwhile, is on the floor, dying from a gunshot
wound. The police had arrived at the scene of the crime way too
soon, leading White to believe one of the five was an informant.
The story's background unfolds through a series of flashbacks, of
the crime itself and the meetings between Joe and the criminals
prior to the crime. Eventually, Blonde arrives with a police officer
hostage, and what follows is a truly brutal, uncomfortable torture
scene. Let's just say Picasso would be inspired by what Blonde
does to the cop's ear.
A lot of the time, RESERVOIR DOGS seems like your
typical gangster heist-gone-wrong movie, but there are a few
sequences that are uniquely Tarantino. The opening scene in the
coffee shop starts the movie off on a high note the rest of it doesn't
live up to, as the criminals plus Joe have a conversation on, among
other things, tipping philosophies and their interpretations of
Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Another scene involves Roth's lengthy
manufactured story about running into a group of cops and a police
dog in a bus station bathroom while carrying a giant bag of
marijuana. Neither of these have much plot relevance but are given
ample time to develop, like the Captain Koons gold watch speech in
PULP FICTION, only here these sequences are more enjoyable than
the rest of the movie. RESERVOIR DOGS is good but it's no PULP
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Hicks