Few directors can claim to have made such an impact with their first feature as Quentin Tarantino and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ marked his arrival in style.
Surprisingly, this movie heist gone wrong wasn’t a huge hit in the U.S. when it was released in 1992 but it had definite attitude and fared slightly better in the UK, fuelled no doubt by media controversy over a particular scene involving the torture of a police officer. As ever in such cases, there’s no such thing as bad publicity and the hype only managed to draw more attention to the independent film than its publicity machine managed on its own.
Bringing together an ensemble cast including Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and Chris Penn, it set Tarantino’s tone and directorial style.
From the opening scene of the gang having breakfast and talking about apparently inconsequential matters, before their now iconic slow motion walk to the George Baker Selection’s ‘Little Green Bag’, it grabs and holds the attention. Set mainly in a warehouse following a failed diamond heist, it’s a switchback of a non-linear story cutting between current events and flashback and all you can do is hang on.
It was also the epitome of cool at the time, with its suit-clad characters guarding their anonymity behind pseudonyms such as Mr Blonde, Mr White, Mr Orange, Mr Pink, Mr Blue and Mr Brown.
After being ambushed by the police, the surviving members of the gang assemble at the warehouse with a badly injured Mr Orange (Roth) to figure out what went wrong and reach the conclusion they were set up. But by whom? Mr Blonde (Madsen) reveals he has captured a police officer, and they try to beat the information out of him and try to work out who the informant is. It’s wordy, as Tarantino’s movies tend to be, but that just helps to draw you in. It’s a satisfying watch backed by a cracking 70s soundtrack.