Mobsters and undercover sting operations are no stranger to the movies, nor to the filmography of Al Pacino. But Donnie Brasco immediately feels a little different to its contemporaries. Mike Newell of Four Weddings and a Funeral directing fame seems almost short-tempered with the genre at hand. He marks Johnny Depp and Pacino, the two leads throughout this crime-oriented feature, with a satisfying wave of the hand that gives the pair a free rein to explore eponymous lead Brasco (Depp) and Benjamin Ruggiero (Pacino). The old hand of the latter man guiding what was at the time a new generation of potential mobster leads. It is not the faith presented by Pacino but the confidence of Depp to take on this new genre that strikes most entertainingly of all with Donnie Brasco.
Partners in crime is a genre like no other. The open road and that rebellious attitude siphoned off into good-hearted people trying to fend for themselves and make the best of a humdrum situation. For the eponymous characters in Thelma and Louise, that reaction to the inevitable pin drop moment is a fascinating bit. Director Ridley Scott manages to capture the cultural period, the outlook of disgraced events and the follow-up of protagonist reactions with just one scene that echoes around the rest of the film with such pertinent responsibility. It is quite a stunning achievement, as the whole of Thelma and Louise is with its cast of future stars and genre-defining dynamics.
There’s something about the suits. Reservoir Dogs sticks out not just for its hypermasculinity and love of violence, its rich character studies and intertextual relations, but for its costume design. It helps that the freshman efforts of Quentin Tarantino provide such magnificent variety, even when struck with such a small budget for a project that, in an ideal world, would be flashier and deadlier. Less is more, though. As a writer, his script feels pulpy. As a director, his film feels professional. Blending the two is something that, as a creative, he strives for with every film he creates. The results do not always work, and in most cases, they are never better than his fast-paced, almost one-room crime thriller, which draws the obvious inspirations and influences of B-Movie brutality, harsh dialogue and simplicity in its story. Reservoir Dogs is the response to a lull in the market, a reaction that would catapult the genre, cast, and crew, to greatness.