An experienced crime boss, Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), and his son (Nice Guy Eddie) hire six thieves to pull off a robbery of a diamond wholesaler.
The men don’t know each other, and they are assigned code names: Mr White, Mr Orange, Mr Pink, Mr Blonde, Mr Brown and Mr Blue. Thus if one gets caught, he can’t rat out any of the others.
Things do not go as planned. One of the crooks is actually an undercover cop, and the group walk into a police ambush.
After a bloody shootout, they escape, scatter and rendezvous later at a pre-assigned location in a warehouse to contemplate their next move and try to figure out which of them was a rat.
The movie – inspired largely by a 1987 Hong Kong film called City on Fire – is a masterpiece of structure, artfully using digressive storytelling while sustaining momentum, continuity and style to an effective climax.
The use of the single location is reminiscent of theatre staging.
Reservoir Dogs recognises that the “who’s the mole?” plot device can only be sustained for so long. Hence once it is revealed, a series of flashbacks follow involving the cop preparing himself for the assignment and ingratiating himself into the confidence of the group.
The performances are top-notch. Steve Buscemi is wonderfully creepy and manic as Mr Pink. It’s also a pleasure to see veteran character actor Laurence Tierney on the screen again, this time as Joe Cabot.
Michael Madsen delivers one Bad MoFo performance as Vic Vega (aka Mr Blonde), a devil-may-care sociopath.
After watching his most graphic scene, you will never listen to the Stealers Wheel song Stuck In The Middle With You the same way again.
It is Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth who give the film its most touching edge. The relationship between Keitel and Roth has a transcendent element – the bosses may have protected against betrayal, but not loyalty.
Keitel’s Larry ‘Mr White’ Dimmick develops a very paternal relationship with Tim Roth’s mortally wounded Mr Orange (real name Freddy Newandyke), creating a trust and honour to protect him at any cost that is challenged in the film’s climax.
Reservoir Dogs is a strong character-driven film. Ironically it is writer/director Quentin Tarantino who gives the least compelling performance (as Mr Brown).
Mr White (Larry Dimmick)
Mr Orange (Freddy Newandyke)
Mr Blonde (Vic Vega)
‘Nice Guy’ Eddie Cabot
Officer Marvin Nash
K-Billy DJ (voice)