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USA 1992
Directed by
Quentin Tarantino
99 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino's first film, which he also co-wrote and acted in (with an admirable measure of tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation giving himself the name of Mr Brown), is a bloody, foul-mouthed testosterone-driven tour-de-force of contemporary B grade crime film about a jewellery robbery gone wrong that remains a benchmark for independent film-makers many of whom have tried but none so well.

Opening with a convivial breakfast amongst eight hardened criminals who are arguing about the meaning of Madonna's 'Like A Virgin', followed by the classic opening credits over the George Baker Selection's Little Green Bag it then cuts to Mr Orange (Tim Roth), bloodied and writhing in the back seat of a car driven by Mr White (Harvey Keitel). From then on the intensity does not let up as we cut between a warehouse rendezvous where these two hole up and eventually Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) and then Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) show up. The film cuts between this and flashbacks to the failed heist as we find out what went wrong with the job and why.

Although some people will find the level of violence offensively self-indulgent, Tarantino's film is very much addressed to the crime film aficionado (Mr Blonde bets Mr White that he is a Lee Marvin fan. Marvin starred in Point Blank (1967) a film that Tarantino no doubt admires).

As is always the case with Tarantino, the script is skilfully thought-out using a non-linear structure to excellent effect while the cast relish in the well-drawn characters with their whip-smart dialogue giving first class performances all round. Harvey Keitel, who was also co-producer, stands out, whilst  veteran B grade bad guy, Lawrence Tierney, was a masterstroke of casting as the old-time crime boss, Joe Cabot. Chris Penn, brother to Sean, makes his most memorable screen appearance.

There is only one reservation I had and that is how, in the final shoot-out. Joe shoots Mr Orange, Mr White shoots Joe. Eddie shoots Mr White but who shoots Edie?

FYI: Co-writer Roger Avary went on to direct an execrable, bigger budgeted version of the same idea in Killing Zoe (1994).




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