The Arrival of Tarantino - TopTenMM Heist Movies

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Nominee #3 - Reservoir Dogs (1992)

A straightforward jewellery heist falls through and the surviving participants begin to suspect a police informant amongst the group.


Quentin Tarantino


Quentin Tarantino


Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen

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Director Quentin Tarantino's feature-length debut (which he also wrote) - Reservoir Dogs (1992) - has become a cult classic; and not just for its graphic depiction of violence or its excessive profanity. The movie that announced to the world the arrival of a gifted and daring director also changed the way heist plots and performances were handled in Hollywood. No more kid gloves and safety catches!

Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney and Michael Madsen star as diamond thieves who contend with the repercussions of a jewellery store heist that goes awry.

The visceral cool of Reservoir Dogs ensures that it remains a defining moment in the history of the heist movie genre.

The movie's non-linear storytelling, its unnerving screenplay with a million pop culture references, the eclectic choice of songs for the soundtrack and the impressive acting performances combined to create the indie template for so many crime movies since.

Ironically, the actual heist - which impacts everybody in the movie - is not shown.

Instead, Tarantino is more interested in the drama that plays out amongst the characters as their best laid plans unravel (many of them under aliases of various colours - Mr. Brown, Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Orange and Mr. Pink!). This is achieved through hard-hitting black humour that drips through the in-your-face profanity-laced dialogue and the edgy brilliance of the acting performances by the main cast.

The one particularly gruesome torture sequence – which became a hotly debated segment of the movie - opened the director to accusations of gratuitous violence. But the consensus remains that the movie is as concerned with other elements (such as stylised dialogue and pop culture references) as it is with disconcerting sadism.

Two years later, Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) would go on to create even greater ripples across the movie world. But the visceral cool of Reservoir Dogs ensures that it remains a defining moment in the history of the heist movie genre.

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