"Reservoir Dogs" (1992)- Movie Review

Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and Tim Roth

‘Glimpses of a Genius’

Few directors around the world have established as clear of a trademark style as Quentin Tarantino. As opposed to filmmakers, such as Steven Spielberg and even Robert Zemeckis (who have an undeniable tendency to explore various genres) Tarantino has stuck to his own creations: Tarantino-isms. Wait a minute…that isn’t an actual genre. What it is, however, and has gradually evolved into being known as in society is a term representing the director.

Although Tarantino’s approach to making movies has garnered him a specific, restricted target audience and may I say a few haters, he has showed originality and creativity in his films. What really sets this lad apart from others in the business is his distinctiveness.

You immediately know that you’re watching a Quentin Tarantino film when there’s loads of gory violence,  a plot that’s anything but predictable, catchy dialogue that’s mostly made up of profanity and a stylish soundtrack that glows like the light from a bulb.

In an industry where it’s usually hard to match a director with a movie, Tarantino is a distinguished gem; an exception. Each film of his represents him on paper; what’s going on in his mind instead of others. And despite an overtly self-indulgent mood he sometimes gets carried away with in his movies, there’s no doubt that he is one of the generation’s boldest directors. However, not every filmmaker has the ability to deliver the goods on a regular basis. Many try to yet end up falling short of expectations.

It’s exactly what happens to Quentin Tarantino. He creates highly entertaining and unpredictable Cinema with “Reservoir Dogs”, which was in the 1990’s, his directorial debut. But its not too clear what he wants to say about the topic being presented, or the charming and likable characters dominating every scene. Released to great critical acclaim, this well-paced, impressively shot and impeccably acted movie shows bits and pieces of a genius, indicating him as someone to be reckoned with. Non-linear storytelling is utilized in a nearly thorough, effective way that allows for notable observations about certain characters. Even the musical choices are crisp, so where does this movie really fall apart? It all comes down to the director’s use of characters. Despite laying out plenty of interesting characters, Tarantino fails to go deep into their personalities and this makes them quite incomplete.Surprising, though, as this is the kind of director that usually pays extreme attention to character development. Consider the filmmaker’s groundbreaking “Pulp Fiction” and fabulous “Django Unchained”. Both of these movies emphasize their characters, and make them stand out so much that without them, the pieces of entertainment wouldn’t nearly as effective. “Reservoir Dogs”, on the other hand, only has glimpses of what could have been more fleshed out characters.

This overrated, ‘so-called-masterpiece’ is far from Tarantino’s best. Set around the aftermath of a jewelry heist gone wrong, it focuses on the criminals that suspect one of themselves to be a police informant.

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In the opening sequence, it becomes crystal-clear that this director has greater ambitions than one would expect from a first-timer in the field. Tarantino immediately introduces the film’s characters in a highly effective way. And it’s not using any ordinary methods either: the main characters, in this case criminals, are huddled around a table having what seems like a casual, everyday conversation for them. Yet here’s where Tarantino’s knack for originality and dialogue kicks in; the talk that these criminals are conversing in is among the remotest and strangest on the face of this planet. Its crude and odd, but at the same time astoundingly fascinating to watch them crackle at each other. Each line of dialogue is delivered with immeasurable energy and talent; it’s a delightful joy to watch the actors. It’s evident that Tarantino wants to achieve a home-run. Yet what he ultimately accomplishes with the rest of the film is less; a solid hit that doesn’t live up to the magic of the beginning.

What’s missing the most from this Tarantino caper is the poetical dialogue that we usually come to expect from the filmmaker’s films. It’s present in the delightful opening scene but not nearly as memorable in the other parts of the movie. Gone are the rat-a-tat, sharp and witty conversations between characters; only to be replaced by slightly unnecessary violence as well as tedious situations in which characters sputter instead of properly speaking.

Thankfully enough, a set of brilliant performers are redeeming factors. Harvey Keitel offers likable charisma in a memorable role, Michael Madsen is mesmerizingly engaging as a twisted psycho, and even Tim Roth, who’s character lays on the ground for most of the movie, tunes in marvelous work.

As usual, Tarantino spends much time picking musical numbers that suit his film. The choices are dazzling; both magnetic and stylish, particularly fascinating is the use of the upbeat song “Stuck in the Middle” during a shocking torture scene. Despite a clunky, arguably dull ending, the director also proves that he’s a risk-taker by providing plenty of twists and surprises. Questionable, though, is whether all of his decisions make perfect sense.

3/5 stars

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