"... doesn't really deliver when it comes to shock value, characterization, or the script."
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino, Ringo Lam (according to Ningen)
Producer: Lawrence Bender
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen, Quentin Tarantino, Eddie Bunker, Kirk Baltz, Steven Wright,
Running Time: 99 min.
Plot: Like you don't know.
NINGEN'S REVIEW: While it's not a legal or officially acknowledged remake of City on Fire, RD has (unfairly) achieved so much attention, that it'd be impossible to ignore reviewing it. A number of people have cited me as biased towards Quentin Tarantino, because I single him out as a plagiaristic hack when theft is the norm in Hollywood. But unlike Michael Bay and the Island/Clonus debacle, Quentin has been hailed as an "independent" director, which would suggest a unique vision different from the mainstream movie machine. Yet I don't really get how ripping off an ear is "edgier" than a decapitation in a slasher film. (Plus I don't get the double standard for why a Texas Chainsaw Massacre which has essentially the same content is more likely to get panned by critics.) And cop movies like Lethal Weapon feature robberies all the time. But despite suggesting "perspective" by shifting to the criminals' point of view, you don't really get to know anything about the motives or desires of the characters. They just wax poetic about the meaning of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and the code names they've been assigned. Like the director, their lives are meaningless.
My other gripe is the lack of realism in the crimes. Let's start at the top. You've got a mafia don who asks his flunkies to rob a diamond store. Now assuming that it actually went smoothly, where would you sell the loot, and keep the cops and feds from tracking you down? That's why most criminal organizations engage in money laundering, not stick-ups. (In fact, A Better Tomorrow is the superior gangster film precisely because you see the inner workings of the triad organization.) But to add to the stupidity of the script, the thugs don't wear masks, gloves, or even bullet proof vests. They just burst in with guns blazing and stumble out as if they're desperately competing for the Darwin Awards. (Even Quentin's ex-buddy, Roger Avary, had the decency to explain the set-up for the heist featured in Killing Zoe.) But no, it's "cooler" to just stage a shoot-out in which the undercover cop gets shot up. Not that it matters that undercovers are usually assigned to gather evidence for drug busts, prostitution rings, and illegal weapons smuggling(as seen in another superior film, Hardboiled). Quentin logic assumes that a police force would waste its resources trying to bust up a penny ante robbery from the inside, when it'd just would result in a bunch of (literally) dead leads. It also assumes that gangsters holed up in a werehouse would avoid taking hostages, and just torture them while leaving their backs open to cops.
The violence itself is dumbed down with scattered camera shots, while its impact is diluted by a pointless dance number with generic 70's music which adds nothing to the tension. (A sign of things to come in Kill Bill.) Sure, the narc is a sight to see when he's a bloody mess, but you don't even know where he's been shot, so it's hard to sympathize with him. So in conclusion, Rerservoir Dogs doesn't really deliver when it comes to shock value, characterization, or the script.
NINGEN21'S RATING: 4/10