It’s been 30 years since reservoir dogs show the world Quentin Tarantino and his gang of ragged thieves: Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Rose (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Brown (Tarantino himself) and Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker). The 1992 film tells the story of a group of robbers aiming to pull off the perfect diamond heist, but the crime goes haywire when one of the men turns out to be a cop. Now we know why Tarantino doesn’t show the actual bank robbery in Reservoir Dogs, because it came down to a budgetary reason, although the filmmaker himself always considered that not showing the heist was beneficial for the overall story. Showing the heist itself isn’t a bad idea. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why it could have made Sundance’s success even better, but not including this pivotal plot-clouding scene helped make the film unforgettable. Why?
Well, one of those reasons is that he established what reservoir dogs is: a character-driven play about loyalty, honor and identity. Having a wild gunfight show will still be entertaining, but it would have erased the mysteries surrounding reservoir dogs. One of them is about loose cannon Mr. Blonde aka Vic Vega. Before Mr. Blonde arrives and while Mr. White and Mr. Pink are about to ignite on each other, we continue to hear about how Blonde started the shootout and White easily calls him a psychopath.
However, go back to the opening scene and this moment tells a different story. The guys talk about Madonna’s song “Like A Virgin” and Mr. Blonde explains why the song is about a girl who is vulnerable after being betrayed by all the men in her life. Now he asks Joe (Laurent Tierney) jokingly, “Do you want me to shoot this guy?” later in the scene, but Mr. Blonde never comes off as a psychopath. The dinner scene is crucial because it helps establish the character of the main cast. It’s this juxtaposition that makes Mr. Blonde intriguing. Where is he? Is there a possibility he’s the mole? Heck, when he finally shows up in the warehouse, his moves become unpredictable because he’s a loose cannon with a nice side.
Does that mean showing the bank robbery with Mr. Blonde losing his mind would have killed the mystery about him? Yes. Even Mr. Pink says it, the guy is too crazy to be a cop. Given that the police have taken the wait-and-see approach until shit starts hitting the fan, Mr. Blonde being a cop just wouldn’t make sense. In Mr. White’s case, he seems more likely to be the cop, with him deliberately breaking the rules of giving his name to Mr. Orange as one of the examples, and considering how little of his character we know. . However, this notion could easily be said for everyone, especially Mr. Blue! Until this is confirmed by Joe, Mr. Blue’s whereabouts are unknown. He could have been at the police station screaming like a pig about the secret warehouse. Not showing the bank robbery hides subtle character beats that viewers would have picked up. Granted, Tarantino would have done his best to hide that Mr. Orange was the rat within the group, but eagle-eyed fans would have noticed the key yet subtle moments that added further dimension to their characters. Unfortunately, one thing that stands out is that the film is heavy on exposition, but the combination of Tarantino’s strong acting and snappy dialogue makes the film feel more natural than not.
However, it wasn’t just the fact that the mystery factor played out until Mr. Orange shot Mr. Blonde, but it gave Tarantino a chance to play with structure without confusing the audience. Since the inciting incident isn’t shown, the flashbacks of Mr. White, Mr. Orange, and Mr. Blonde never feel like the story is slowing down, because those are the moments that help the story to advance. It gives the audience a chance to connect with these criminals; the important showcase of Mr. Blonde and Nice Guy Eddie’s (Chris Penn) strong bond as friends, to how Mr. Orange worked his way through the crew, and to the development of his friendship with Mr. White. The flashback moments help piece together a puzzle (aka the bank robbery) that yields the information we need, without slowing the momentum of the story. It would have been very difficult to make this narrative work if we had seen the bank robbery. The non-linear aspect would have been disjointed and although the flashbacks give vital information about the formation of the crew and the characters, the momentum would have been killed as the focus should remain on the present after the bank heist. went wrong.
This brings us to the end. There should have been more development between Mr. White and Mr. Orange’s friendship. Although it’s ridiculous that Joe’s instinct is why he thinks Mr. Orange is the mole, telling him he didn’t research the guy thoroughly should have asked Mr. White to question Mr. Orange a little more. The trust should have been stronger with Joe and Nice Guy Eddie, and given that Mr. White never comes across as a guy who acts out of emotion, his motive for trusting Mr. Orange seems dishonest. However, after Mr. Orange finally reveals the truth, the stunning ending sees Mr. White blow his head off before the cops blast him to heaven. The crucial part is that the focus stays on his face, so viewers never see those explosive moves. Not putting on a wild show during the shootout gave Tarantino the flexibility to control audience expectations of what he will see. This moment of seeing Mr. White despondent over being betrayed resonates more strongly than witnessing the tragic events unfold in the climax. reservoir dogs is a violent film, but Tarantino shows restraint when delivering these moments. He never loses sight of character, and that’s why these men are considered leading figures when it comes to cinema.
reservoir dogs would still have been a good movie if the bank robbery had been shown. However, not showing the catalyst that kickstarted the whole plot allowed the strong character-driven story to evolve beyond your typical popcorn affair. Tarantino created a cast of memorable characters and unpredictable moments, which is why the film remains iconic.