Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Character Profile: Mr. Blonde

He's the dark-haired guy in the middle.

Reservoir Dogs is a very interesting film. It's a very non-conventional story (only a man like Tarantino would try to make a heist movie without actually showing the heist). The cast is made up primarily of a bunch of guys who have very few redeeming qualities. Let's face it, all but one are crooks (and even he ended up shooting a civilian) who spend most of the film yelling at each other, not to mention they utter a lot of offensive language including a few racist remarks. The weird part is it somehow still manages to be extraordinarily compelling in its simplicity.

The main cast of course consists of a bunch of men who, with the exception of Nice Guy Eddie and Joe, are dressed similarly (making them harder to identify) and identified by color-coded names: Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Mr. Pink, and Mr. Blonde. All of them are nasty characters. Mr. White seems slightly better by comparison but even he does a few less than pleasant things. 

Mr. Pink does a lot of horrible things: we first see him refusing to tip a waitress in spite of pressure from his colleagues and only relenting when Joe points out he paid for his breakfast. Later on we see him firing at cops giving chase and dragging an innocent woman out of her car so that he can get away, showing little concern over one of his partners being severely wounded, and trying to make off with the diamonds on his own after everybody else ends up in a Mexican stand-off. The funny thing is in the long run he doesn't seem so bad.

As bad as the others get ("Nice Guy Eddie" shoots a cop in cold blood, as if they weren't already in enough trouble), they seem like really nice guys once Mr. Blonde (who isn't actually blonde) steps onto the scene. From his first appearance in the film's opening scene when he jokes about shooting Mr. White to his arrival at the warehouse we know something's not quite right about this guy. 

Mr. White is freaked out by him and even Mr. Pink mentions that he came close to shooting him (there is talk about how he went on an unnecessarily violent killing spree during the heist of which White was almost a casualty). While Mr. Blonde's joking about shooting one of his own partners and Mr. White's testimony certainly help to set things up, we really get to see his true colors when he arrives at the warehouse. The others are shocked and confused. Mr. White arrives desperately trying to comfort a critically wounded Mr. Orange and Mr. Pink bursts into the warehouse mid-tantrum. 

Mr. Blonde, however, steps in very cool and casual.  He doesn't seem to fully understand the gravity of the situation, having apparently taken the time to stop at a fast food joint to get a soda and some fries whereas everyone else has been desperately rushing to their meeting point. We see him just casually leaning against the pole, sipping at his drink and teasing his partners. This is certainly a sharp contrast to the two men present who are obviously a bit more worried about the fact that the heist was a disaster, they don't know how many people got out alive, and the cops could be closing in any time.

Then of course we get to the infamous torture scene, the scene so horrifying Michael Madsen had a lot of trouble going through with it, and even broke down on set after Kirk Baltz, who played the cop he tortures, ad-libbed a line about his character having a wife and kids. Blonde of course proceeds to duct tape the guy's mouth shut and violently cut off his ear with a razor blade (incidentally, I do wonder if Tarantino took some inspiration from Blue Velvet when writing this scene). He then goes on to douse the poor guy in gasoline (which is already painful enough) and very nearly sets him on fire. 

The thing is that before he does this, he looks the cop in the eye and honestly says that he's just torturing him for fun. He doesn't care what information the poor guy will give, he's going to hurt him anyway. Worse still is just how casual he is about the whole thing, putting on some of his favorite music and dancing around. 

The guy is a psycho, plain and simple, although White and Pink are the only ones to recognize that. We even see a bit of this in his flashback, when he talks to Joe and "Nice Guy Eddy" after getting out of jail. He has a chance to go clean and get a job, but he loves his criminal work too much to even consider that possibility. 

Whatever happened to make him this way there's no turning back, and the only way his story could end was with his own death, which is precisely what happened at the hands of Mr. Orange. Sadly, Blonde does manage to get a partial victory against Orange in that he had earned enough trust from Joe and Eddy that there was no way they would believe Orange's story that he planned to betray them.

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