Reservoir Dogs is a great example of a director's debut. Anyone who is familiar with Quentin Tarantino's more recent or earlier work will be able to catch the stylistic iconography that has made him a movie fan-favorite; insatiable dialogue, wonderful tracking sequences, and a flair for the spaghetti Western.
Ignoring to play out the heist directly. Instead the characters describe the hell that broke out on them driving up the suspense of who is telling the truth or covering their ass. It's brilliant, and there's a laundry list of examples of its memorable impact: Steve Buscemi's performance as the anxious and riled-up Mr. Pink anxious counter-balancing Harvey Keitel's smooth and experienced Mr. White. The continuous persuasive speech by Mr. Pink for everyone to act more professionally. Mr. Orange's sordid tale is genius all-around from production to the performance by Tim Roth. (Spoiler clip - don't click if you haven't seen) Mr. Blond's attack: the song, the dance, the cinematography. Smooth editing splits between stories of each person's individual survival and the present lock-down. The numerous amounts of tracking. The film itself has plenty of brilliant moments.
Yet for all the bells and whistles of what I love about Tarantino, it doesn't fit like a glove as his other more notable work. I'm not going to lie: I struggled with this one.
From the beginning with their morning soiree making chit-chat at a diner, the group has zero trust between them. They're working together for a job, the high reward, and that's it. To establish interest to various characters and identify the audiences who might be the rat, flashbacks give ample time to establish their backgrounds. This device, with the exception of Mr. Orange, sometimes made me feel downright bored, even in the midst of recognizing how unified the production was.
Feeling slow and painfully long, the setting and script just didn't seem to have enough give with the men together. There's no doubt that its performances are top-notch as well as the spit-fire, calculated voice Tarantino always gives to his work. The unfolding of their backgrounds solicits ideas of who may be the betrayer but it leaves little adrenaline and intrigue to the situation at hand. It felt less developed and engaged to the present bloodshed, and too much dedicated to backstory.
When one configures the biggest influences of the independent genre, there is no doubt a spot set aside for Tarantino and Reservoir Dogs. Original, memorable, and displaying a voice in film that has inspired generations to follow, the film rightfully lives up to the name and image of its creator. On some level, for all its cultural prestige, the end result is a bit lackluster.