Reservoir Dogs (1992)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In 1992, Reservoir Dogs transformed Quentin Tarantino practically overnight from an obscure, unproduced screenwriter and part-time actor to the most influential new filmmaker of the 1990s. The story looks at what happens before and after (but not during) a botched jewelry store robbery organized by Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney). Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) is a career criminal who takes a liking to newcomer Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) and enjoys showing him the ropes. Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) is a … More

Rating: R (violence, language)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Quentin Tarantino
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 5, 2002
Miramax Films


as Mr. White, Mr. White...

as Nice Guy Eddie

as Mr. Orange

as Mr. Blonde

as Mr. Pink

as Joe Cabot

as Holdaway

as Marvin Nash

as Mr. Blue

as Sheriff #1

as Shocked Woman

as Sheriff #2

as Sheriff #3

as 4th Sheriff

as Sheriff #4

as Shot Cop

as Shot Woman

as Young Cop / Backgrou...

as K-Billy DJ

as Background Radio Pla...

as Background Radio Pla...

as Background Radio Pla...

as Background Radio Pla...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Reservoir Dogs

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Critic Reviews for Reservoir Dogs

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (18)

The film, for all its mayhem and fury, is too distant to be truly disturbing; it treats everything with an impatient, born-too-late shrug.

Full Review… | June 26, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

A brash, brutal crime-caper film, Reservoir Dogs has enough raw energy for 10 motion pictures and more than enough rough stuff to traumatize the sensitive. But not only does Dogs have teeth, it has brains.

Full Review… | June 26, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Tarantino's palpable enthusiasm, his unapologetic passion for what he's created, reinvigorates this venerable plot and, mayhem aside, makes it involving for longer than you might suspect.

Full Review… | June 26, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A much-acclaimed revisionist gangster film that I found to have more style than substance.

Full Review… | June 26, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Tarantino, in Reservoir Dogs, has made a nihilist comedy about how human nature will always undercut the best-laid plans.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Undeniably impressive pic grabs the viewer by the lapels and shakes hard, but it also is about nothing other than a bunch of macho guys and how big their guns are.

Full Review… | March 13, 2007
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Reservoir Dogs

"Somebody's stickin' a red hot poker up our asses and I wanna know who's name's on the handle"

Before becoming a cinematic auteur a young Quentin Tarantino worked in the film rental store Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, and would often recommend little-known titles to customers. On one occasion, he suggested Louis Malle's "Au Revoir Les Enfants", to which the customer mockingly replied, "I don't want to see no Reservoir Dogs." And so the title of Tarantino's blistering debut film was born. It was originally planned as a $30,000 personal film with his friends, before Harvey Keitel showed an interest in the script and came onboard as the star and co-producer which helped hike the budget up to $1.5 million. The rest, as they say, is history. Tarantino had finally made his mark on the movie map and has since become one of the most highly praised directors of his, or any other, generation.

Crime lord Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and his son Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) assemble a crew of trusted criminals who they appoint with colour coded aliases to protect their identity: Mr. White, (Harvey Keitel), Orange (Tim Roth), Pink (Steve Buscemi), Blue (Eddie Bunker), Brown (Quentin Tarantino) & Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen). Their plan is simple: rob a jewellery store and make off with the diamonds to a prearranged rendezvous. However, the robbery doesn't go down well and those that are left alive suspect that they have a police informant amongst them.

Few debuts have made as much of an impact on cinema goers as Reservoir Dogs has. It heralded the arrival of an energetic new writer/director and opened up the floodgates to numerous crime imitations thought the 1990's. Few, if any, achieved the same impact. However, there were some that criticised Tarantino for being a plagiarist. There were obvious references to films like Stanley Kubrick's The Killing, John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, Joseph Sargent's The Taking of Pelham 123 and most notably Ringo Lam's City on Fire. Without a doubt, Tarantino was influenced by these movies but stealing is a very strong accusation. Now, many years and several more films down the line, I think it's fair to say that Tarantino has an extensive film vocabulary and often pays homage to some of his favourite filmmakers. Film knowledge may be deemed esoteric by some but in Tarantino's case it helped him craft three of the best films from the 1990's - along with Dogs there was, of course, Pulp Fiction and the vastly underrated Jackie Brown. And besides the point of plagiarism, it was Tarantino's dialogue (entirely his own) that received the most praise for it's true originality. His characters talk fast and the words seem to jump of the screen and that's exactly where Reservoir Dogs' strengths lie.

If it wasn't for the non-linear, chronology of events it would essentially be a chamber piece. Set largely within the confines of an abandoned warehouse, each character talks through what actually went wrong during their bungled heist. The heist itself is never witnessed as Tarantino decides to focus on the aftermath of the robbery rather than the event itself but it's the sharp and descriptive dialogue that allows these events to come to life in our imagination and each of the actors are allowed to spout their words with as much colour and vibrancy as their blood soaked shirts.

There are many highlights amongst the ensemble but the three that stand out the most are the loyally professional Harvey Keitel, a highly-strung and opinionated Steve Buscemi and the cold, psychopathic Michael Madsen. If I had any issues with the cast at all, it would be Tim Roth's tendency to overplay his work. He, by no means, delivers a poor performance but too often over acts and his personal section of the story interrupts an otherwise precisely structured flow. This is a small gripe as Tarantino still has a solid handling on the material and executes it with the deftness and skill of a director twice his age. On this evidence alone his extensive, esoteric knowledge of film certainly paid off - not only for him but for the viewer.

Heavily influenced by the likes of Martin Scorsese and Brian DePalma, among many other filmmakers, Tarantino was certainly not the first to use non-linear storylines, Steadicam techniques or distinctive soundtracks but he was a luminary to ambitious young directors that followed, and a lot of that came from this breathtaking film that set a whole new benchmark. One critic described Reservoir Dogs as "...a bloody, brash, brilliant heist thriller that grabbed audiences by the lapels and kneed them in the crotch"... I couldn't have put it any better myself.

Mark Walker

Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

At the beginning of the nineties, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana looked in disgust at the formulaic, soulless lumbering cash cow guitar music had become and using cues from grittier, purer classics of the past singlehandedly swept away the self serving excesses of the genre and revolutionised it forever. Quentin Tarantino did exactly the same thing with cinematic crime drama. He examined the logistics of both being an undercover cop and planning a heist and introduced believable characters who spoke like real people; they weren't just posturing stereotypes punctuating another set of pointless explosions and car chases. He created an ensemble cast of actors for their charisma and ability, not their box office drawing power. He scored it with wit using obscure music from the past that complimented the action rather than trying to make a fast buck selling yet another insipid rock ballad to people who don't listen to music. Tarantino has often been accused of plagiarism, and this script does 'borrow' from City On Fire and The Taking Of Pelham 123. But if you ask me, an original but bad film is still a bad film, while an unoriginal but brilliant film is still a BRILLIANT film.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

A unique directorial debut from a unique (but very overrated) director. Tarantino writes and directs this ultra vulgar/violent film and the cast, particularly Buscemi, puts on a great performance. This film, about the aftermath of a heist rather than the heist itself, tests the trust and loyalty between nine suave criminals. This is a pretty good indie film.

Sanjay Rema
Sanjay Rema

Super Reviewer

Reservoir Dogs Quotes

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