Within the growing pantheon of independent films of the time, Reservoir Dogs is yet another standout. This 99-minute Quentin Tarantino movie established his style and voice within the neo-noir genre: one that relied heavily on violence, pop culture, profanity, and non-linear storytelling. Reservoir Dogs has been hailed by one source as the “Greatest Independent Film of all Time.” A description that Sherlock Holmes would probably amend to “Greatest Independent Film Known to Exist by 1992.” Well … it stands to reason.
Be that as it may, the movie (which pays heavy homage to the old film noir Kansas City Confidential) is a tale told out of order about a bizarrely planned jewel heist involving eight men. Six of them have been assigned aliases – names like “Mr. Blue”, “Mr. Orange”, “Mr. Pink” and so on – which pays a kind of homage to the four hijackers in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. But I digress … as does the movie, which goes back and forth in time with abandon.
The job, as I said, is a jewel heist. Specifically, the robbery of a diamond store. But instead of having everyone meet separately, wearing masks, and using the odd device of a torn playing card to bring them together, as in Kansas City Confidential, these “anonymous” criminals all get together for breakfast at a diner, where the most heated discussion is about how much to tip the waitress.
And so it is with humor that Tarantino starts the story. And, as the heist goes quickly down the toilet, things move on rapidly to shoot outs, bleeding gunshot victims, hostage taking, and the severing of an ear to the sounds of loud rock n’ roll music. All this, of course, is mixed in with flashbacks, so keeping the story straight is secondary to the point that the aftermath of a failed diamond heist can play havoc with your sanity.
And it may interest you to know that, in addition to the homages previously mentioned, Tarantino claimed Reservoir Dogs was influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing. One scene where a cop is tortured was inspired by the 1955 film The Big Combo. In addition, the plot includes key elements from the 1987 film City on Fire.
It’s also interesting to note that the heist is never shown. Furthermore, the film’s title appears to have no relevance to the plot. The story goes that while Tarantino worked at the Video Archives, he suggested the movie Au revoir les enfants to a patron, who misheard it as “reservoir dogs”. I’m still not sure what that has to do with anything, but it’s … interesting.
Finally, Michael Madsen plays a character named Mr. Blonde, aka, Vic Vega. Any relation to Vince Vega of Pulp Fiction fame, do you suppose? 🙂
This awesome indie film well deserves two thumbs up! I could watch it again and again!