My momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” For instance, sometimes you think you’re going to get Forrest Gump and instead you get Reservoir Dogs. It’s an easy mistake to make. They’re practically the same film.
Due to some unforeseen difficulties (note to presenters: there is NO Blu-Ray player in the conference room!) Xochi was forced to pick something off of her NetFlix instant viewing queue, and everybody present was happy to pick Quentin Tarantino’s first film. And Xochi somehow hadn’t seen it yet, so she was in for a treat. A bloody, violent treat that has maybe a slightly different take on American culture than Gump.
The film starts in a diner, where we get introduced to a group of 8 characters having breakfast. They’re really well dressed, which is odd, and they have dirty mouths as they talk about Madonna’s Like A Virgin (the answer is not “a lot”, the answer is “nine”) and argue about tipping. We’ll find out later, thanks to Tarantino’s patented nonlinear narrative, that six of them are about to pull a diamond heist. Here’s the cast:
These guys finally leave the restaurant and give us the epic “slow walk” shot from the title credits. You’ve seen it:
And from the credits we skip straight to the diamond heist.
Actually, I lied. We never see the diamond heist at all (which, by the way, was a fantastic decision by Tarantino). Instead, we skip straight to the blood and carnage in the aftermath of the botched heist.
Seems Orange got a gut shot. He’s kind of panicking, which makes some sense because he’s in a lot of pain, and he thinks he’s going to die. (We’ll see the gut shot later, courtesy of a snub-nose being carried by a woman whose car they hijacked in their escape. You know, after Mr. Brown got shot in the head and couldn’t drive straight anymore.)
Despite the blood all over the car, they make it to the rendezvous warehouse, where they are shortly joined by Mr. Pink, who arrives alone and drops the fact that he has stashed the diamonds. So, it’s not a complete loss. But Pink is convinced that there must have been a cop in on the heist, because the cops were there too soon. Pink trusts nobody (not even the gut-shot and semi-conscious Orange) – except for Mr. Blonde. Mr. Blonde, it seems, started popping civilians like they were tic-tacs after the bank employees set off the alarm. Anybody that psychopathic couldn’t possibly be in with the cops.
Well, at least he was right on that one.
In fact, Blonde shows up in short order with a cop in his trunk. A live cop. A live cop that he sets about torturing while they all wait for Nice Guy Eddie and Joe to show up.
Somewhere in here there’s a bunch of backstory – Blonde just got out of prison, doing time for not ratting out Joe, Orange is the undercover cop and learns to tell a fable about a urinal, a bag full of pot, and a bunch of sheriffs with a dope-sniffing German Shepherd in the john, which convinces Joe that’s he’s on the level. Or on the not-level, as the case may be.
Meanwhile in the warehouse there’s plenty of argument, largely involving Mr. White really disliking the psychopathic nature of Mr. Blonde, but eventually Eddie shows up (Joe’s pissed, apparently. Didn’t like the job going south.) and takes Pink and White to go fetch the diamonds and move a few getaway cars so there’s not a tailgating party outside the secret warehouse.
This leaves Blonde, Orange, and the cop (tied to a chair) alone, and this is when Blonde shows his true colors.
First, he slashes the cop in the face with a razor. Then he sadistically cuts his ear off. Then he douses him in gasoline. (This isn’t about getting information out of the cop, see. He just really, really likes this part.)
And he’s about to pull a burn on the cop when…
Oh, poop. Mr. Orange woke up. No burn for you. But as a consolation prize, you get this chest full of lead! Orange explains to the cop that he’s also a cop (the cop knew, he remembered meeting him once) and tells them that the cops are outside, only waiting until Joe shows up to spring.
Of course, it was all for naught. When Nice Guy Eddie returns with White and Pink, Orange explains that he killed Blonde because he was about to kill the cop. “What, this cop?” asks Eddie, and promptly empties a clip into the guy. Remember that blood spatter on his face? Yeah. That’s it.
Well, finally Joe shows up, and just like Eddie said, he’s pissed. And he knows who the cop was – it was Orange, the only guy he wasn’t sure of. Well, Joe’s right, but White is convinced he’s wrong. So we get this:
The standoff ends in about two seconds, and it goes like this: Joe gut-shoots Orange (again!), White kills Joe, Eddie injures White, White kills Eddie. And as White crawls his way over to Orange, whom he has so selflessly saved, Pink crawls out from behind a metal ramp, grabs the diamonds, and walks out the front door.
Unfortunately, he can’t have gotten far, because the cops are right outside. But while they take their time presumably apprehending Pink and making their way into the warehouse, Orange makes a stupid, stupid mistake. He cops to being a cop to the injured White.
Um, hello? Sure, you’re double gut-shot, but your buddies are RIGHT OUTSIDE. And instead of getting a free ride to the hospital, you get a free ride to the morgue after White blows your brains out while cradling your head as if he were George telling you about the rabbits. This, of course, done while the cops are telling him to put the gun down. So that’s the end of White.
And seeing as Joe has reported (before getting killed, of course) that the missing-since-breakfast Blue is dead as well, the weaselly Pink is the only one who lived. See what reward you get for refusing to tip your waitress?
Anyway, great movie. I hadn’t seen it for probably a decade or more, but it’s one of those films that’s so perfectly scripted, so perfectly paced, that if you sit down at the beginning of it, you can’t leave the room. You just have to watch the whole thing play out and nod in acknowledgement every time Tarantino pulls off a great line of dialogue, a great scene, builds immaculate tension, etc. I like Pulp Fiction, but Pulp Fiction doesn’t even touch this movie. Not much does.