Quentin Tarantino is undoubtedly one of the most popular and controversial filmmakers in recent film history.
Since his writing and directing debut with “Reservoir Dogs” in 1992, Tarantino has made a name for himself as a filmmaker with an edge. His films are often incredibly violent, foul-mouthed and certainly not for everybody.
Personally, I’m a fan of Tarantino’s work. I thought that his most recent outing “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” was an intriguing love letter to classic Hollywood filmmaking, and obviously “Pulp Fiction” is a classic. However, my favorite film of his would probably be “Inglourious Basterds,” which sees Tarantino inject his own flair into a star-studded and dramatic adventure set during World War II.
Despite how much I enjoy Tarantino’s work, I’ve actually never seen a fair amount of his films. For this week’s Rewind Review, I decided to sit down and finally watch the film that started Tarantino’s career: “Reservoir Dogs.”
“Reservoir Dogs” is a classic beloved by many. Tarantino’s story here is relatively simple. There is a group of criminals that, after a robbery goes wrong, are suspicious somebody within their group sold them out to the police. The film jumps back and forth between the small group of surviving criminals hiding out in a warehouse and several sequences that show how each of the individual members got involved with the heist to begin with.
The cast consists of talents such as Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen and more. Most of the characters are known almost exclusively by their code names — Mr. White, Mr. Pink, Mr. Orange, etc. — but each character has a distinct personality for each actor to make their own.
Despite the film’s fantastic cast, the true star of the film is Tarantino himself.
The script Tarantino penned for this film is nothing short of outstanding. At its core, the story of this crime film is really a mystery, and Tarantino treats it as such. There’s only one question at the center of the story: “who is the mole?” Tarantino goes about answering this question by visiting each character one by one, almost as if they were in a police lineup. By doing this, Tarantino gives every character their chance to shine, and it allows the audience to get a good idea of who each person is.
The script doesn’t present the characters in a blatant this-person-is-good, this-person-is-bad sort of way. It shows them for who they are and then allows the audience to make up their own minds about each one. As a result, “Reservoir Dogs” sucks the viewer in and gets them just as involved and dedicated to solving the mystery as the characters are.
Though the script gives them more than enough to work with, these characters are truly brought to life by the actors portraying them.
There isn’t a bad performance in this movie. Every single actor brings their own distinct flavor to these roles, which helps the audience easily differentiate each person and remember their names, despite them only being referred to as their color-coded monikers. Keitel is as excellent as ever, but Roth and Buscemi really steal the show. Each time either of them is on screen giving their own perspective of the story’s events, the viewer can’t help but hang on their every word. They were both absolutely stellar, and to be honest, these might be the best performances I’ve seen from either of them.
Based on how much I’ve enjoyed the Tarantino films I’ve seen, I expected to have a good time with “Reservoir Dogs.” What I didn’t expect was for it to be one of the best I’ve seen from the director.
Now, I can’t help but feel the need to sit down and binge through Tarantino’s filmography. Everything about this movie worked for me in unexpected and surprising ways, and it’s a film that I will likely watch many more times in the future. If you haven’t seen “Reservoir Dogs” yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.