The legacy of Reservoir Dogs is a lot greater than the initial impact it had when released back in 1992. I remember how the crew of a UK Nintendo magazine praised this movie which was subsequently followed by angry letters by readers who went to see it and claimed they walked out on the movie along with a lot of other people. 20 years later Reservoir Dogs is generally regarded as a classic, is listed firmly in the IMDB Top 250 and gave the world Quentin Tarantino, one of the greatest directors in the history of filmmaking.
Like Kevin Smith’s Clerks Reservoirs Dogs is a debut movie that obviously has a low budget. Most of the actors were little known at the time and most of the movie takes place in a warehouse. But where Kevin Smith had only $60,000 to make his movie, the participation of Harvey Keitel made sure Tarantino had $1,5 million to make his movie. So Reservoir Dogs is in color and has actors that already made a name for themselves or would do so following this movie.
The movie revolves around the aftermath of a jewelry heist which goes bad. Cops show up too early so there must have been a rat amongst the crew. The ones that aren’t killed during the heist meet up in an abandoned warehouse and start pointing fingers to each other. Meanwhile one of the robbers is bleeding to death and another one has a cop in his trunk.
Reservoir Dogs was clearly an exercise for Tarantino who would really find his touch with Pulp Fiction two years later. This is his shortest movie and most straightforward plot. His signature feel for dialogue is on display during a breakfast in a coffee shop and the movie using flashbacks and title cards giving us backgrounds on the robbers.
The movie is tightly scripted running only 100 minutes (all of his later work would go over two hours with ease, with the exception of Death Proof) and is funny as well as being just a good story. I however don’t think it’s the classic it’s generally regarded. It’s a good entertaining story, but pales in comparison to a lot of his other work like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill or Inglourious Basterds. It’s a bit raw and the fact they didn’t have a large budget is probably the reason why certain events are only addressed to in dialogue and not in flashback, most notably the heist gone wrong which is addressed constantly but never shown.
Despite these remarks I still find Reservoir Dogs to be a quite enjoyable movie but not worthy of such a high-rank in the top 250 (currently around #70). It’s a really good debut, but is totally overshadowed by the majority of Tarantino’s other movies.