Reservoir Dogs (18)

Review by Jack Foley

THE heist gone wrong movie is a genre all in itself. Done well, it can be tremendously exciting; done brilliantly, and you quite frequently have Box Office dynamite.

The template was set by the likes of Kubrick, with The Killing, and Scorsese with Mean Streets, but it has been done differently - and no less competently - by the likes of Peckinpah (The Getaway) and Michael Mann (Heat). But the template wasn't so much borrowed, as shattered by a young director in 1991, with the release of Reservoir Dogs...

Quentin Tarantino, video store film geek, literally exploded on to the scene with his bloody, foul-mouthed and brutal debut, instantly earning notoriety among Daily Mail readers and attracting praise from anyone open-minded enough to appreciate this new approach to film-making.

The story is hardly original, but the execution spectacular. A bunch of colour-coded bank robbers (including Mr White, Mr Pink etc) are rounded together by crime chief Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and his son, Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) to execute a jewel robbery.

Needless to say, the job goes wrong, and the gangsters reassemble at a warehouse to find the 'fucking rat' who fucked the whole thing up. The ensuing 'debate' - interspersed with flashbacks to the robbery itself, its bullet-ridden aftermath, and the assembly of the crew - makes for gutsy viewing; the type of which requires a strong stomach and an ear for gritty dialogue.

Tarantino is an unapologetic film-maker and writer. He seldom shirks from the controversial, and his language is always colourful. Some of the more memorable moments come from verbal confrontations in Reservoir Dogs; such as the classic opening sequence as the robbers discuss tipping and the meaning of Madonna's Like A Virgin before taking their near legendary slow-mo stroll to the heist.

But there are also sequences to savour, such as the equally legendary ear-splicing scene, involving Michael Madsen, that tune, and an unfortunate cop. The notion of honour among thieves is also prevelant throughout; whether it's conveyed from the point of view of the older, more world-weary members, or disbanded by the gun-totting hard-hitters.

Tarantino also draws terrrific performances from his ultra-cool cast, including Tim Roth, as a blood-spattered undercover cop, Harvey Keitel, as the veteran who goes out of his way to protect the injured Roth; Madsen, as the psycho of the piece, and, of course, Steve Buscemi, as another of the crew.

There are times when you can accuse the movie of being a little too talky for its own good, or even self-indulgent (a trait Tarantino would take a step too far with Jackie Brown) but this still does not detract from the power of the piece. It packs a very heavy punch and is a fucking must see for any fans of the gangster genre.

Now, about Madonna....