The Hateful Eight Review

Haters gonna hate

Director: Quentin Tarantino. Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russel, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Masden, Bruce Dern, Demian Bircher . Genre: Western. Running Time: 167 minutes. Budget: $44 million. Rating: UK (18), USA (R)

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Very recently, as I sat in a cinema reading “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”, my heart fluttered with joyous excitement at the prospect of what I was about see. Earlier today, the words “The 8th film by Quentin Tarantino” gave me almost the same buzz as I knew I was in for a treat.

The Hateful Eight very nearly didn’t happen after the one-of-a-kind director cancelled the movie following a script leak in early 2014. Thank goodness he changed his mind as his latest film is a typical Tarantino treat.

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image via The Weinstein Company

Set in 19th  century  Wyoming, years after the Civil War,  The Hateful Eight kicks off with bounty hunter “The Hangman” John Ruth (Kurt Russel) transporting fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to collect his reward. En route they pick up another bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and soon-to-be-sheriff of Red Rock Chris Maddix (Walton Goggins) who are both heading in the same direction. To avoid an oncoming blizzard, the group take shelter at the bar, Minnie’s Haberdashery.

Instead of Minnie, they find themselves in the company of Red Rock’s English hangman Oswald Mowbray, quiet cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Masden), former Confederate General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) and the Mexican Bob (Demian Birchir) who’s looking after the place while Minnie’s away.  Trapped in close quarters by the snow storm, the eight strangers soon realise that they’re in for some trouble.

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image via The Weinstein Company

In what began as an idea for a Django Unchained spin-off novelisation, Tarantino’s latest film has shades of both his preceding effort and his directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs. Just like Django, The Hateful Eight is a Western that carries many of the codes you’d expect from the genre. It also shares the strong theme of race which is especially thought-provoking considering the current strained racial climate in the US.

Similarly to Reservoir Dogs, The Hateful Eight revolves around a bunch of shady characters who find themselves entrenched in a plot full of terrific twists and turns.

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image via The Weinstein Company

The film’s a unique addition to Tarantino’s filmography in the sense that it was shot in widescreen 70mm format which brings out the beauty of the snow drenched landscapes while giving the scenes taking place indoors the texture of a stage play.

Apart from the visuals, The Hateful Eight doesn’t stray too far from the director’s signature style as it has everything you’d expect from a Tarantino flick. The way he weaves his wizardry with words casts a spell that pulls you into scenes, leading to some brilliant black comedy and giving moments spent with characters sitting and talking the energy of an action blockbuster shootout.

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image via The Weinstein Company

There also the familiar flashes of OTT violence as at times there’s blood gushing everywhere like a waterfall. The final 30 minutes is especially blood-soaked but is edge-of-the-seat viewing.

And as usual, Tarantino gets great performances from his actors. Frequent collaborator Jackson is on fire as Marquis in a role that glues the film together. He commands the screen like a general and delivers a monologue nearly as powerful but much more sinister than his famous Bible quoting Pulp Fiction speech.

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Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren. image via The Weinstein Company

A female lead in a Tarantino film is normally someone to root for (i.e. Uma Thurman’s Beatrix in Kill Bill or Mélanie Laurent’s Shosanna in Inglorious Basterds) but Leigh’s Daisy offers something new and the way she plays the crazed, feral and unpredictable bandit surely deserves some award nominations.

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Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue. image via The Weinstein Company

Goggins, who usually impresses in smaller supporting roles, gets his meatiest cinematic part to date and does a spectacular job as the dopey Chris, while Russell excels as the grizzly bounty hunter John.

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Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix. image via The Weinstein Company

A current Hollywood A-lister gets a small but important role and relishes the opportunity to unleash a menacing side to him previously unseen.  Roth, Dern, Madsen and Bichir are all on fine form too.

While there’s plenty to rave about, The Hateful Eight isn’t without flaws. There are a few characters that are a little bit under explored as others are allowed to shine instead. A major mystery is also solved pretty quickly which makes it feel quite anticlimactic. Plus there’s a bit of narration from Tarantino which comes across pretty strange.

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Kurt Russel as John Ruth. image via The Weinstein Company

As well, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The repeated dropping of N-bombs, bloody gore and violence towards the main female character may cause some offence. The film’s close to three hour runtime may also be too long for some viewers.

But personally, The Hateful Eight was my cup of tea. Forest Gump once famously explained, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” And the same can be said for The Hateful Eight. Tarantino takes you on a journey where you have no idea what’s coming next and the result is a thoroughly thrilling ride. The Hateful Eight scores a fitting:

8/10

Scores rating:

1ish –  2ish                   Stay away at ALL costs!!!

3ish – 4ish                    A bad film, not Michael Jackson Bad, but just straight up bad

5ish – 6ish                    Probably worth seeing at some point

7ish – 8ish                    A fantastic film definitely worth watching whenever you can

9ish -10                         Unmissable – go watch it now!!!

Check out the official trailer here:

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