There is always a starting point for any story, and for the career of Quentin Tarantino, today’s movie is exactly that. Now I had not heard of this movie until after Pulp Fiction came out but after watching it, I decided to rent it. Now back then, I didn’t normally go for the crime movies, as I was pretty much a sci-fi/horror movie buff, but I felt compelled to give this a try since Pulp Fiction was so good. So here is today’s movie, Reservoir Dogs.
The plot: 8 men (Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, Mr. Blue, Mr. Pink, mob boss Joe Cabot, and his son “Nice Guy” Eddie Cabot) are eating breakfast at a diner, with Mr. Brown talking about the real meaning of the song “Like A Virgin”, while Cabot is commenting on the names from an old address book he found. As they put in money for the tip, Mr. Pink refuses to contribute, explaining his reasons for not tipping, but Cabot tells him to put in a dollar since he was the one that bought breakfast. Some time later, White is driving back to the rendezvous place, which is one of Cabot’s warehouses, with Orange screaming in pain in the back seat, having been shot in the stomach. When they get to the warehouse, White lays Orange down on the floor and does his best to keep his spirits up, telling him Joe will get a doctor for him and that it takes a long time to die from a gut shot. Pink shows up and starts ranting about how they were set up, as the cops should not have shown up as quickly as they did. When he asks where the others are, White tells him that Brown is dead but he hasn’t seen the others yet. White has Pink follow him into another room, where they start talking about what happened. White says that the alarm was tripped and then the police showed up but Pink says that the police were already there waiting for them, but didn’t reveal themselves until Blonde started shooting people. White gets angry about Cabot sticking them with a psychopath and Pink goes on again about how one of them was a rat. Pink says that he has the diamonds from the heist and stashed them, then tells White that they should just leave but White says he can’t leave Orange to die. White has a flashback to when he met with Cabot and discussed the diamond heist. Back in the present, White checks on Orange, who has passed out from the pain, and he and Pink argue over what to do next. Things start to get violent when the two are surprised to see Blonde standing nearby, and White starts yelling at him for starting this mess. As the three talk, Pink says they have to show some solidarity until they figure out what happens. Blonde has them follow him out to his car, telling them he spoke to Eddie, who said to wait there as he is on his way, and then opens the trunk to reveal a captured police officer, and White and Pink laugh and grab the cop so the can question him. In a flashback, Blonde (real name Vic Vega) shows up at Cabot’s house after serving a 4 year prison sentence and Cabot tells him that he appreciates his not giving up Cabot’s name in exchange for a lighter sentence. When Eddie shows up, they continue talking and Eddie decides to include Vic on the job he and his father are organizing. Back in the present, White and Pink start beating on the cop to try and get him to tell them how they were set up when Eddie shows up. Eddie starts yelling at them all to calm down, then tells White and Pink to get rid of some of the cars out front, and he will follow them, then they will go get the diamonds and return to the warehouse. White doesn’t like the idea of leaving Blonde there with Orange and the cop but Eddie convinces him to go, saying he will call a doctor for Orange while they are going. After they leave, Blonde approaches the cop and uses duct tape to gag him, as he proceeds to tell the cop that he plans on torturing him because he likes to torture cops. Turning the radio to a 70’s program, Blonde starts dancing to “Stuck In The Middle With You” and the proceeds to cut the cops ear off. After mocking the cop, Blonde heads out to his car and gets a can of gasoline, then starts dousing the cop in gasoline. As he is about to set him on fire, Orange shoots him multiple times, killing him. Orange then asks the injured cop his name, and tells him that he is an undercover cop, and the cop, Marvin Nash, says he knows as they were introduced about 5 months ago. A flashback shows how Orange (real name Freddy Newandyke) started working his way into Cabot’s organization and how he managed to get in on the job. Then it shows Orange and White casing the jewelry store and discussing the plan, before cutting to what happened after the heist, with Brown being shot in the head as they tried to escape, then how Orange was shot when he and White try to steal another car. Back in the present, White, Pink, and Eddie return to the warehouse and, seeing Blonde’s dead body by the door, White asks Orange what happened. Orange tells them that Blonde tortured Nash and was going to kill him, then kill them when they got back and split with the diamonds. Eddie shoots Nash, then says he doesn’t believe Orange’s story as Blonde could have turned his father in at any point while he was in prison. Cabot shows up and says that Blue is dead and that Orange is working with the police, then pulls out a gun to shoot him. White pulls out his gun and points it at Cabot, saying he will kill him if he shoots Orange. When Eddie points his gun at White, Pink tries to get everyone to calm down but the three end up shooting each other so Pink takes off with the diamonds. As police sirens start getting closer, White crawls over to Orange and cradles his head in his lap. Orange apologizes to White (real name Larry Dimmick) and says that he is a cop and White gets upset about sticking up for him and points his gun at Orange’s head. As the police bursts into the warehouse and tell White to drop the gun, he shoots Orange and is promptly shot by the police.
Reservoir Dogs met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Thrumming with intelligence and energy, Reservoir Dogs opens Quentin Tarantino’s filmmaking career with hard-hitting style. The movie was seen as one of the classic independent and cult films, with some citing it as the greatest independent film of all time. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $2.8 million at the US box office off of a $1.2 million budget.
This is great movie to watch. The acting was really good, with Harvey Keitel (White), Tim Roth (Orange) and Steve Buscemi (Pink) doing great jobs in their roles. The standout though was definitely Michael Madsen, as his portrayal of the psychotic Mr. Blonde so unnerved people that he jokes about how some people are still uncomfortable around him. The story was pretty good, with it being something of an homage to all of the movies that Tarantino cited as being his influences in making the film. I liked the aspect of the crime never actually being seen, just all of the after effects of what happened. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects, as this movie relied more on tension and drama to carry the story than flashy effects (of course the low budget also probably had something to do with that). For instance, the scene with Michael Madsen dancing around before slicing off Nash’s ear is still pretty creepy. A really great movie to watch if you are in the mood for a good thriller of a movie.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5