#78: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

When and how did I watch this?

November 20th, 2016, on Netflix.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Some of my buddies have been hollering about this movie for a long time, mostly because it’s Tarantino, most likely. I’m aware it’s sort of a cult classic.

What do I know about it now?

I felt like I’d seen this film already — I suppose watching 170+ films at a high frequency might do that to you — and I did some light research and discovered my familiarity was justified: The Killing was a model for Tarantino when putting the film together.  It’s certainly not the same, however.  Sure, it has a tidy plot and an assembly of witty crooks, but the level of violence is certainly heightened, and what makes this film stand out even more so is the intentional omission of the actual heist.  We’re left to trust our characters — none of whom seem terribly reliable — to  fill us in on what happened, piece by piece.  We’re thrust into the aftermath, and we find out people are already dead or dying, that the job was botched, and we see guys are frantically looking to rectify the situation. Through some twists, betrayals, and violent justice, we’re left with exactly one character. Again, this looks intentional, as if Tarantino was seeing how many primary characters he could kill off.  It’s cleverly done, but we feel sorry for no one in the end because there was no attempt to develop any characters, with the exception of more tough guy flashbacks. The whole film has a 70s feel to it: tough guys in suits and shades, static-laden throw-back radio score, ugly criminals and an uglier boss, and some quick draw action. Overall, a respectable film.

What are some themes in the film?

Trust/loyalty, friendship and family, justice, crime, revenge

Did this affect me personally?

Some of the moments were pretty gruesome, but nothing in particular stuck out to me.

Why is this ranked #78?

It’s Tarantino, and it’s bloody. It’s an indie film, and people appreciate that.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She reluctantly watched the whole thing, and likewise appreciated the clean plot.

Would I watch it again?

Nah.  This is definitely not my kind of movie.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

If your type of movie is the independent and raw tough guy shooting/swearing/smoking kind, you’ll really dig this.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

The film is nice, but it’s not “great”.  Perhaps it belongs on the list, mostly because it is sort of a precedent for indie filmmakers and the first feature for Tarantino, but nothing about the film itself vaults it into a higher level.  The Killing, certainly a great film, employs silent tension and features characters I care about.  For me, this one has neither, but perhaps makes up for it with the clever screenplay aspect.

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