Monday, 23 March 2015

Film Review - Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)

Fig 1. Reservoir Dogs Poster.

A considerable strength within this film is in its storytelling. The story is split-up and mixed around so that the film follows a completely non-linear track. As a result, the audience is constantly faced with past events in strange orders, that don't completely tie in or make sense until the grand finale of the film, which is finally in the present. Usually this would be a risky manouver for any director, but it is done extremely well. Details slowly become known at a steady rate and the audience can keep easily. The story in this film feels just as organic as any linear story.

Roger Ebert states in his review ''The movie feels like it's going to be terrific, but Tarantino's script doesn't have much curiosity about these guys. He has an idea, and trusts the idea to drive the plot. The idea is that the tough guys, except for Tierney and the deranged Madsen, are mostly bluffers. They are not good at handling themselves in desperate situations.'' (Ebert, 1992). The film certainly focuses on the downfall of each of the characters, one by one they are revealed in more detail to the audience and eventually meet their timely end. Using each character to drive the plot works very well in this film, there is a clear focus on specific characters throughout and it feels like they are telling you what happened from their perspective during the job. By interacting with each other through heated debates, the audience is slowly fed information about what happened outside the confines of the warehouse. This certainly made the film more interesting as it does mostly take place in the warehouse (See Fig 2).

Fig 2. Warehouse Still.

Anne Bilson states in her review of the film ''while the survivors are trying to work out what went wrong and whether one of them is an undercover cop – the film fills in vital information via an assortment of flashbacks. This is an ambitious structure, but Tarantino pulls it off with panache.'' (Bilson, 2014). The plot consists of a present in the warehouse rendezvous and flashbacks from the characters to fill in key information. As such the audience is regularly faced with the aftermath of something they haven't seen the cause of yet. This is an effective tool and the audience is, as a result, constantly eager to find out what is happening and why. Flashbacks are used extremely well as a plot device in this film.

Jeff Dawson states in his review ''Choosing to concentrate on the aftermath, he veers off instead - within the claustrophobic confines of the hideaway and in the context of Real Time - into psychological drama, with the paranoid hoods recounting their own version of events in a bid to determine just who might be the rat in the house responsible for tipping off the cops.'' (Dawson, s.d.). The character conversations and arguments in the warehouse consist mostly of accusations and suspicions about who the rat might be. This fact is of course left until the bitter end and they are only seeing the rat himself for a short time before the final scene. Before that they treat every character with as much suspicion as they do each other, this is because they know only as much about the individual characters as the characters themselves do about each other. As the scenes in the warehouse mostly consist of endless bickering, the audience doesn't form any real connection to any of the characters. They are treated with an apathetic and curious stare from beginning to end. Overall this film has too many strengths to count and very few weaknesses. An entertaining and shocking experience from titles to credits.

Illustration List

Tarantino, Q (1992) Figure 1. Reservoir Dogs Poster. (Accessed on 22/03/15)

Tarantino, Q (1992) Figure 2. Warehouse Still. (Accessed on 23/03/15)


Bilson, A (2014) (Accessed on 23/03/15)

Dawson, J (s.d.) (Accessed on 23/03/15)

Ebert, R (1992) (Accessed on 23/03/15)


  1. Good review Jack :) Image 2 seems to be missing though....

    1. so it does, didn't notice that it hadn't loaded in, I'll get that fixed now.