Reservoir Dogs: Classic Spotlight Review

by Daniel Giorello | Staff Writer 

Since we’re in that transitional lull where there aren’t any noteworthy movies getting released for a brief period, I thought I’d put the spotlight on a classic that I’ve always appreciated for its very raw aesthetic and nerve-wracking narrative. While Tarantino’s first true cinematic outing needs no introduction, it has the tendency to be overshadowed by his more popular releases such as “Inglorious Basterds” or “Pulp Fiction.” Yet, part of the charm in “Reservoir Dogs” comes from seeing how Tarantino puts a clever spin on what would be an otherwise unremarkable plotline. As a gang of would-be thieves attempt to hold out from police and a potential traitor after a job goes south, the film’s emphasis on developing its characters envelops the viewer as we learn from multiple perspectives how everything went so wrong in the first place.  

The reason I find myself coming back to this film often is because there are quite a few aspects that shouldn’t work. The majority of the plot takes place in an old warehouse with only a few brief flashbacks for context, but each member of the crew has distinct motivations and psyches, so much so that allies can turn to enemies in a moment’s notice. The old adage that there is no honor among thieves holds true as each of the characters slowly comes to terms with the unfortunate events that landed them where they are now.  

In fact, were it not for the incredible performances of actors like Michael Madsen or Steve Buscemi, I’m not sure how much the narrative would be able to sustain the film. The frenetic energy that keeps a viewer involved is the same one that is almost exhausting by the time you’ve reached the conclusion. There are so many double-crossings and moments of uncertainty that it starts to feel overwhelming and what was once immersive begins to feel slightly disjointed. 

When all is said and done however, it’s a great example of how to do a first film well. Tarantino’s never afraid to show off his inspirations, but makes it clear that when he’s in the director’s chair he can tell a familiar story from an unfamiliar place. The film sticks its landing admirably and when the dust clears you’ll likely spend a lot of time thinking about just how well so many different ideas came together. 8/10 pinecones for a first effort that shouldn’t be quickly forgotten.