Reservoir Dogs: Tarantino’s underrated gem

How the popular director's first film set him apart

If I were to ask you what your favorite Quentin Tarantino film is, which one comes to mind first?

Chances are you’re probably thinking about “Kill Bill” or “Pulp Fiction,” right? While those films are incredible in their own ways, I’ve always loved his first film “Reservoir Dogs” the most. With its 31st anniversary being this month and with the news of the director’s final film, “The Movie Critic,” releasing next year, I thought it would be a good time to talk about this underrated movie and its importance.

For those unfamiliar, “Reservoir Dogs” focuses on a group of six perfect criminals. These men, strangers to one another and equipped with color pseudonyms, are under the employment of crime boss Joe Cabot. After a tightly planned heist to rob a diamond wholesaler goes awry and the group is ambushed by L.A. police, the surviving criminals meet back at their warehouse rendezvous. They begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant after they piece together what went wrong during the robbery.

“Reservoir Dogs” laid out the groundwork for future Tarantino films in what sets his directing style apart from other filmmakers. One aspect being his iconic non-linear style of storytelling. The film jumps backwards and forwards in time. Every little bit of the heist and leadup to it we see serves to add foreshadowing and recontextualize future scenes. When more information is revealed this way, it adds a greater impact to the later reveal. Tarantino would go on to use this storytelling format for his more popular future films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “The Hateful Eight”.

Similar to other directors, Tarantino has some mainstay actors throughout his roster of movies, most of which helped him start his career with “Reservoir Dogs”. The movie stars Harvey Keitel as Mr. White, Tim Roth as Mr. Orange, Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink, and Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde. The film also features Tarantino himself as Mr. Brown alongside Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie, Joe Cabot’s son. The engaging, raw performances from this smaller cast paired with a well-written script and impressive cinematography paved the way for Tarantino in the filmmaking scene.

Another Tarantino first comes in the form of the movie’s soundtrack. The director prefers to use exclusively licensed music in his films rather than creating an original score. The soundtrack of “Reservoir Dogs” includes music exclusively from the 70’s. Some of the songs included are Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in The Middle With You,” “I Gotcha” by Joe Tex, and Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut”. These tracks add to the overall feel of the film’s world and pair well with the onscreen action.

Overall, this is a movie I highly recommend. “Reservoir Dogs” is a shining example of independent cinema and is what I consider to be one of the greatest indie movies of all time. It has been in the shadow of “Pulp Fiction” for almost three decades and it’s time that it got its well-earned recognition. If you are a fan of the crime genre or appreciate a well-written story, go check it out!

You can view the movie’s trailer by clicking here.