56. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Reservoir Dogs

June 5, 2018

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen, Quentin Tarantino
Runtime: 99 Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 1992

 

★★★★☆
 

Reservoir Dogs is a retrograde culture point at the beginning of a revolution in Hollywood, one of the most successful independent pictures ever made, and a beacon of guidance for a new generation of filmmakers to go forth and make their mark on the world. As indulgent a monolith as that of any great auteur, Quentin Tarantino, a young but very cineliterate filmmaker, raised on grindhouse matinée’s and exploitation cinema, was simply making a film that he’d never seen before.

 

All of Tarantino’s characters are a reflection in some way of the man himself, characters obsessed with and discussing popular culture in a way that few films had ever dealt with before. Contemporary backdrops and subversive themes of violence nestled into a traditional frame of reference. They all speak like him, outside of conventional movie dialogues and more like the banter of people in the real world, who get childlike and excited about things that they are passionate about discussing. From Quentin’s ludicrous, profanity-laden opening monologue concerning Madonna’s Like a Virgin, this establishes itself as a very different exercise to the usual crime caper – where the punches fly fast and cut deeper and nastier than that we are accustomed too.

 

Its narrative structure is unique in its avoidance of the main topic of discussion being directly shown on screen, and the film appears to truly come alive in the third act, as we take a walk through the history of Mr Orange; a spectacular visual presentation that flexes the best of Tarantino’s abilities as a storyteller.

 

The performances are universally excellent from its relatively small and restricted cast, with a soundtrack embedded in its own universe that it emerges through muffled bursts of shouting and screaming, it’s a perfectly directed, fun exercise in the genre that promises bigger things to come.

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