This movie is not for everybody. It's for hardly anybody. Fans of this kind of paperback-style bloodbath, however, will be held by the promise of a resolution as outlandish and as the rest of the picture.
The film ends without a satisfying resolution, since these characters are so ugly only an agonizing affliction would qualify as just deserts. Crime doesn't exactly pay in this case, but it doesn't cost enough either.
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.
Exuberance over violence is mostly reined in. Coiled male panic and ricocheting accusations carry the action. At its best, at a time before Tarantino became all show, Reservoir Dogs reveals masculinity as a bloody, savage, two-faced performance.
Undoubtedly one of the best films of the 1990s, and probably one of the best directorial debuts of all time, Reservoir Dogs announced the arrival of one of contemporary cinema's hottest talents -- and he came out shooting.
It's unclear whether this macho thriller does anything to improve the state of the world or our understanding of it, but it certainly sets off enough rockets to hold and shake us for every one of its 99 minutes.