A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Now that we know Quentin Tarantino can make a movie like "Reservoir Dogs," it's time for him to move on and make a better one.
This film, the first from an obviously talented writer-director, is like an exercise in style. He sets up his characters during a funny scene in a coffee shop, and then puts them through a stickup that goes disastrously wrong. Most of the movie deals with its bloody aftermath, as they assemble in a warehouse and bleed and drool on one another.
The movie has one of the best casts you could imagine, led by the legendary old tough guy Lawrence Tierney, who has been in and out of jail both on the screen and in real life. He is incapable of uttering a syllable that sounds inauthentic. Tierney plays Joe Cabot, an experienced criminal who has assembled a team of crooks for a big diamond heist. The key to his plan is that his associates don't know one another, and therefore can't squeal if they're caught. He names them off a color chart: Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, and so on. Mr. Pink doesn't like his name. "You're lucky you ain't Mr. Yellow," Tierney rasps.
The opening scene features an endlessly circling camera, as the tough guys light cigarettes and drink coffee in one of those places where the tables are Formica and the waitresses write your order on a green-and-white Guest Check. They argue, joke and b.s. each other through thick clouds of smoke; it's like "The Sportswriters on Parole." There's a funny discussion of tipping. Then they walk out of the restaurant, and are introduced in the opening credits, as they walk menacingly toward the camera. They have great faces: The glowering Michael Madsen; the apprehensive Tim Roth; Chris Penn, ready for anything; Tierney, with a Mack truck of a mug; Harvey Keitel, whose presence in a crime movie is like an imprimatur.