‘You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize…’
There are great movies and there are influential movies. Occasionally a movie comes along that changes cinema forever. Not often, but sometimes there is a movie that does all of the above. Reservoir Dogs is one of those rare moments when everything comes together to produce a masterpiece.
The story behind the production of Reservoir Dogs is almost as compelling as the film itself. First time director Quentin Tarantino was working in a video store and had planned to film his heist script on a budget of $30,000. Through an unlikely series of coincidences, Harvey Keitel got his hands on the script and agreed to star and co-finance. The rest is history.
I love visuals and effects as much as the next man, (unless the next man is Michael Bay), but my real passion is for actors. Two films I have mentioned a lot in my writing are Zodiac and Glengarry Glen Ross. In terms of acting, I find those two movies to be almost peerless. One film that can consider itself to be of that high standard however, is Reservoir Dogs.
An eclectic group of criminals are recruited to steal a whole lot of diamonds. The heist goes badly wrong as we see the consequences played out, interwoven with a non linear account of how the heist was planned. The decision not to show the heist was initially budgetary but eventually, Tarantino came to realise the film would be much better without it.
The cast is simply wonderful. Harvey Keitel is by turns brutal and compassionate, Tim Roth is both vulnerable and cocky, Michael Madsen is eerily convincing in a career making performance as the psychotic Mr. Blonde and Lawrence Tierney is suitably imposing as the boss. It is Steve Buscemi though who really elevates Reservoir Dogs to the masterpiece that it has since become. Buscemi is a force of nature throughout, hilarious one minute, seething with anger the next. The New York actor has since become one of the best character actors of his generation but you could argue that he never really topped Mr. Pink.
Quentin Tarantino has become more and more off the rails as his career has gone on. A simple tale told in an exemplary way is not enough for him any more. That is a shame because Reservoir Dogs, his first picture, is probably his best.
For a list of every Quentin Tarantino film ranked from worst to best click here.