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Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Every dog has his day

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 98 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


‘Reservoir Dogs’ is in many ways like Quentin Tarantino’s practice run for the later, and superior, Pulp Fiction. It uses the same non-linear approach to chronology, only with a plot that always seems slightly too basic; it displays the same devotion to meaningless conversational dialogue, only there’s slightly too much of it; it showcases Tarantino’s unmistakable directorial style, but never really makes the most of it. In short, this is a movie that constantly threatens to achieve similar greatness to Pulp Fiction, without ever quite getting there – but it’s not far away. The film focuses largely on the aftermath of a botched heist, with the suited-and-booted gangsters gradually arriving back at their warehouse meeting point in various states of alarm. It soon becomes apparent that the group – each named after a different colour for the sake of anonymity – have a traitor (or, if you prefer, a “rat”) in their midst. If there really is honour among thieves, it looks like this is the time to find out. The stellar cast, including Harvey Keitel (admittedly playing firmly to type), Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and a blood-soaked Tim Roth, each inject their own style of liveliness into their characters, making this an engrossing ride even at times when there’s little happening. Lawrence Tierney also gets to do what he does best as a grunting tough guy, Chris Penn comes across as the most threatening man ever to wear a shell suit, and Tarantino himself joins in the blood and snotters in a minor role within the gang. Watching this on DVD today, what’s perhaps most remarkable about it is that, twelve years on, it still seems fresh. From the delightfully generic suits the characters wear, to the cleverly chosen soundtrack (‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ never really ages, does it?), you get the impression this could have been held back in a cupboard somewhere for any number of years, and upon its eventual release nobody would be any the wiser as to how long ago it was actually made. Whether it will always feel as strangely contemporary is anyone’s guess – but, for now, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ remains every bit as enjoyable as it was back in 1992.

It's Got: Some nicely-pressed suits getting seriously messed up.

It Needs: A trip to the dry cleaners.

DVD Extras An introduction from Quentin (who, as usual, seems slightly more enthusiastic about bloodshed and violence than can surely be healthy) and a trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10


The movie that laid the groundwork for the bigger and better Pulp Fiction – but it’s also none too shabby in its own right.