Synopsis – In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.
My Take – There is no doubt that Quentin Tarantino is among the finest of filmmakers working today. Tarantino‘s films has always been a bit of an acquired taste and he certainly has his critics, particularly of his last few efforts however, with this one, Tarantino has struck gold. His latest film is an excellent western thriller with great story, cinematography and music – but who would expect any less? Right from the start the film captures the viewer, even though it has its slow pace. Do not go into this film expecting a fast paced western, in fact don’t even go in expecting to see something similar to Django Unchained because this is very different. As a fan of Tarantino i knew that we would be given a lot of dialogue, the dialogue here is so captivating that it puts you right in this time period with these characters. But when something happens & oh boy it becomes a tense thrill ride. There is one scene in particular towards the end, where i literally rose to the end of my seat because i had no clue as to who was going to make it out alive. I like films where you don’t know what is around the corner and where you have to keep guessing even when a scene is happening. This film is no exception. Quentin Tarantino is a man who knows how to put together a good yarn. He can bring originality to what from the surface seems to have been done a million times. Unlike that other unbelievable tale set in the frozen forests, this one has a collection of despicable human beings who might or not be who they claim to be. For three hours he treats us to biting exchanges, full of sarcasm, insight, clever lines, and some situations that because of their ugliness shouldn’t be funny, but we can’t help laughing at human flaws.
The story follows John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter known as “The Hangman” who, with his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is on his way to Red Rock to hand her in and watch her hang. With a heavy blizzard on their tail, they pick up two stragglers in Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), also on their way to Red Rock. The plan is to make a stop at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach lodge, and wait for the blizzard to blow over. What wasn’t on the cards though was Minnie’s being occupied by four strangers; Bob (Demian Bichir), Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), one of them not being who he says he is. Being a Tarantino film, you should know to expect long drawn out scenes of dialogue and the occasional explosion of violence. Both are very apparent from the film’s opening scene and from that very moment, Tarantino holds you in a vice like grip and keeps you guessing at who’s who until the final few moments of the film. Tarantino is a very skillful writer. His characters are real, and not just some plain cardboard characters to fill out the blanks between the story. His dialogue is natural and amazing. The story of the film is simple when it is explained shortly, but set within many layers, just like most of his movies. And just like most of his movies, the events aren’t in chronological order, but important pieces from before are revealed when needed. The thrill of the story is well built, and the violent action scenes are balanced with slow, calm scenes. It’s the quality of writing again from Tarantino that helps make this film such an engrossing experience. His words and exchanges between the characters are so intricately written that switching off could lead to missing out on something pivotal to the film’s plot. With film mainly taking place in one location, it has to be spot on and thankfully it is. Much like Tarantino‘s first film, Reservoir Dogs, this is a dialogue driven film where each of the backstories will leave you guessing just as much as John Ruth and Marquis Warren. The story is precisely handled by Tarantino and becomes like many of his films, a genre mix, this time of Western, comedy, detective thriller and mystery. The script is bitterly intense, with some of the best monologues I have seen this year. Its 168 minute run time (Yup I saw the shorter one) is aptly paced with an undeniable flow across the narrative. I personally loved the narrative structure and thought the flashback sequence was perfectly executed.
It is a film that has surprisingly subtle ways of putting across its themes, of race relations in America and political attitudes of the time and how they correspond today. This film is bloody as can be expected. And while some will have to avert their eyes from what happens on the screen, it is once again violence that is more ridiculous than disturbing or upsetting. But don’t get me wrong, if you’re not used to Tarantino violence, this movie may scar you mentally. While Tarantino himself usually takes the spotlight from his actors with his dialogue and signature direction style, and sure this one may be no different, this time he has some hefty competition for the spotlight of this movie with one Mr. Samuel L. Jackson. Samuel L. Jackson gives perhaps his best performance since Pulp Fiction, he plays “Major Marquis Warren” a well respected bounty hunter with an intriguing background, who acquires skepticism as he progresses in the plot. Samuel L. Jackson is absolutely gifted at delivering Tarantino‘s Dialogues and certain scenes where he delivers longer monologues are enthralling. Kurt Russell plays “John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth” a bounty hunter traveling with felon “Daisy Domergue” portrayed remarkably by Jennifer Jason Leigh, there abusive, stone cold relationship is intense and there is a real sense of the treacherous nature of “Daisy” which “John Ruth” must keep at bay. Walton Goggins turns in a hilarious performance as “Sheriff Chris Mannix” a man with his own sense of what’s right and wrong, his scenes are some of the most deliriously comedic of the film. It is an ensemble cast but he is certainly the lead and leads this film he does. While what he says is usually riveting, it elevates to a level I was not prepared for, and the physical comedy and the delivering of his lines must be spoken of as part, be on the lookout for that monologue. Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Channing Tatum & Demián Bichir provide good support. On the whole, ‘The Hateful Eight’ is an excellent, thrilling & entertaining western. The film is an exceptional achievement by Tarantino and all the cast and crew involved. The score is enthralling, performances vivid, direction engrossing and dialog unparalleled, it is in my opinion another Tarantino masterpiece and one of my favorite films of the year.
Director – Quentin Tarantino
Rated – R
Run Time – 168 minutes (shorter version)