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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Film Review - Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Fig. 1 Reservoir Dogs Film Poster

"Reservoir Dogs" is Quentin Tarantino 1992 American crime film and was his debut for screenwriting and directing. "Reservoir Dogs" is a brutally funny, supercharged introduction to Tarantino’s supremely distinct cinematic vision. This would later become one of the most used styles of the 1990s.

Fig. 2 Reservoir Dogs Film Still

The film opens with eight smartly dressed men eating breakfast at a diner; six of them wear matching suits and using aliases: Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue Mr. Brown, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink and Mr. White. Among them is Los Angeles gangster Joe Cabot, and his son, "Nice Guy" Eddie Cabot. A jewel heist is organized by Nice Guy Eddie and gangster father. It is a six-man job that consists of men who have never met before, and know each through their aliases. Most are ex-convicts, but there is an exception: an undercover cop.

From this, we cut to an extremely unsettling image of one of those men, called Mr. Orange, in pain writhing and screaming. His blood smeared all over the backseat of a car which is being driven by Mr. White, making their way to an unknown rendezvous point. Where Mr. White reassures Mr. Orange that he is not going to die today and when the others turn up he will receive proper medical attention he needs. Then we meet Mr. Pink, a nerve-wracked shell of a man who cannot keep himself still. In his conversation with White, we learn that the heist went terribly wrong, when the police showed up. Even though the jewels were taken and most of the gang managing to escape, expect for two  Mr. Brown and Mr. Blue. They believe that the police had a tip off from informant and that possibility that one of the six men are working undercover for the police.
Fig. 3 Reservoir Dogs Film Still

Soon after, another man shows up, a seemingly quiet ex-con named Vic Vega, with the aliases
Mr. Blonde. Of course, being that Mr. Blonde lost his marbles and was the one to initiated start a shoot-'em-up, during the jewellery heist without any regard to civilian casualties. Mr. Pink and Mr. White are none too thrilled to see him. He tells them not to leave the rendezvous as Nice Guy Eddie is on his way. Mr. Blonde walks to his car and opens the trunk to reveal a captured police officer. The three men beat the police officer and he protests that he does not know  anything. Eddie arrives at the warehouse and orders Mr. Pink and Mr. White to assist him in retrieving the stolen diamonds and orders Mr. Blonde to stay with police officer and Mr. Orange.

Fig. 4 Reservoir Dogs Film Still

Mr. Blonde confesses to enjoying torture, and he is uninterested in what the cop does and does not know. Blonde turns on the radio and starts to dances before he cuts off the police officers ear with a straight razor, then he dousing him in gasoline. Just as he is about to drop a lighter, Mr. Orange shoots Mr. Blonde several times. Mr. Orange reveals he is the informant. The remainder of group return to the warehouse to find Mr. Blonde dead and Mr. Orange claiming that Mr. Blonde the diamonds for himself. Joe arrives confidently accuses Mr. Orange of being an informant. Forcing Mr. White to defend his friend, leaving Joe and Eddie dead, Mr. White severely wounded. Mr. Pink, who hid to avoid the shootout, takes the diamonds and flees the warehouse. As police sirens are heard outside, Mr. White cradles Mr. Orange in his arms and Mr. Orange reveals that he is in fact a detective. The police then enter the warehouse, demanding that Mr. White drops his gun; he shoots Mr. Orange, resulting in the police opening fire on Mr. White just before the film ends.

Fig. 5 Reservoir Dogs Film Still

"Reservoir Dogs" is not your standard crime film because "The thing that really sets Reservoir Dogs apart from all of the others is that it is PURE. When you look at the screen, you’re looking at reality." (Cinemarolling, 2011) Most important of all, is that there’s no romantic subplot thrown in, usually a trademark director will use in their action films. Instead of all of that, Tarantino presented his film as simply and straightforwardly as possible. Doing this gives the effect that you are really looking at a gathering of on the run criminals, who are trying to figure out what to do after their failed Jewellery heist.

Fig. 6 Reservoir Dogs Film Still

"Reservoir Dogs" is a heist film without the heist and an action film without much action because Tarantino lets his characters talk and "more than anything, "Reservoir Dogs" is extremely well written. Every scene is exciting, every twist is gripping, every character is memorable and the dialogue always snaps, crackles and pops" (Montreal Film Journal, 2008) Tarantino has a way with words, and the uses dialogue and conversation in the beginning moments, to wet the appetites of the viewer. The way that he directed the opening scene, it seems as if we, the audience, are listening in on their conversation. The dialogue is crisp and clean, providing line after line of snappy dialogue designed to leave the audience to alternately pondering and laughing. As well as the dialogue, there is a heavy quotient of extreme brutal violence. With multiple shooting scenes, and a very violent scene when the hostage police officer, has his ear cut off with a razor blade by Mr. Blonde. The camera angles in this scene and throughout the rest of film are dynamic, making this film not have one dull shot in it.
With "Reservoir Dogs" "Tarantino dosen’t answer the question immediately, but more so flaunts an answer to the audience. He sparks the curiosity and then builds upon it, which is a plus in incorporating a non-linear plot." (Suen, 2000) With films that use non-linear plots, it can either confuse the audience or draw them in, and Tarantino was successfully with the non-linear plot in "Reservoir Dogs".  It especially works here because he takes his idea of not showing the main plot point in the movie which was the actual heist and forms everything around it instead. We are then trying to piece together the events that happened prior to the aftermath of the heist with the help of effective dialogue and convenient flashbacks.
List of Illustrations

Figure. 1 Reservoir Dogs (1963) Reservoir Dogs Film Poster.   (Accessed on 17/02/2011)
Figure. 2 Reservoir Dogs (1963) Reservoir Dogs Film Still.  (Accessed on 17/02/2011)
Figure. 3 Reservoir Dogs (1963) Reservoir Dogs Film. on 17/02/2011)
Figure. 4 Reservoir Dogs (1963) Reservoir Dogs Film. (Accessed on 17/02/2011)
Figure. 5 Reservoir Dogs (1963) Reservoir Dogs Film.
(Accessed on 17/02/2011)

Figure. 6 Reservoir Dogs (1963) Reservoir Dogs Film. 
(Accessed on 17/02/2011)

Cinemarolling (2011) Reservoir Dogs Movie Review (1992). (Accessed on 14/02/2011) 
Montreal Film Journal (2008) Reservoir Dogs (Film Review). (Accessed on 14/02/2011)
Suen, Anthony (2000) RESERVOIR DOGS, 1992 Movie Review. (Accessed on 14/02/2011)

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