Quentin Tarantino is something unique in the movie world. He is a true author as he writes and directs his own projects. There are few like him and those who do tend to create movies that cater more to art-house crowds than the general movie going public. That isn’t the case with Tarantino who has the ability to create epic movies, full of rich dialogue and characters, without a basic three-chapter structure and great cinematography. The only time he disappointed me was with the mediocre Death Proof from which he redeemed himself with the brilliant Inglourious Basterds. As always I had my hopes up for the latest Tarantino: The Hateful Eight.
The Hateful Eight is set in post Civil War Wyoming where four strangers traveling in a stagecoach end up in a mountain pass called Minnie’s Haberdashery to hide from a blizzard. Here they encounter four other strangers and together they make up the titular “Hateful Eight”. It seems that most of these people are linked to each other. All of them are trying to get to small town of Red Rock where they have some sort of business. John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) is a bounty hunter who is trying to bring in his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) alive. Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) is also a bounty hunter trying to bring in his bounties to Red Rock, the only difference being that his bounties are dead. Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) is on his way to this town to be installed as the new sheriff. The people they meet in the cabin are an old confederate general (Bruce Dern) who shares some history with Warren, Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) who is the hangman, Mexican Bob (Demian Bichir) who is running Minnie’s Haberdashery since Minnie is nowhere to be found and Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a cowboy writing a book.
I found The Hateful Eight to be a loose remake of Tarantino’s first movie “Reservoir Dogs“; They both take place in a small and closed setting where none of the characters can actually be trusted. Like that movie and so many Agatha Christie novels the main question is: who’s the perpetrator? In the Hateful Eight that turns out to be a twist on its own and when it finally gets to that revelation buckets of blood have already been spilled.
The casting is superb and of course full of Tarantino regulars. Of the central cast only Demián Bichir and Jennifer Jason Leigh have never been cast in a Tarantino movie before. Samuel L. Jackson stands out as the movie’s lead and he knows exactly to hit the right notes in his performance. It’s a pure joy watching the man every minute he is on screen. He isn’t the only character to leave an impression. Though a bit of a one note tough guy, Kurt Russell is also fun to watch, but the true discovery here is Walton Goggins. He has already left quite an impression with his performance in TV-show The Shield, but here he shows us he could be the next go-to-guy for Tarantino. Not every cast member is a stand out. Michael Madsen is just his typical self en Channing Tatum shows that he better at being good looking than turning in a decent performance.
Running at almost 3 hours The Hateful Eight does overstay its welcome a bit since it take quite some time before something actually happens. The closed location is partially to blame since almost all of the action takes place in and around the Haberdashery. He does manage to give us a change of scenery by taking us outside of the cabin with a memorable flashback revolving around a white confederate and Samuel L. Jackson’s “pecker”.
As with most Tarantino movies, I had the feeling I should watch it again sometime soon. This is one of those movies that is pure fun to watch and the snowy scenery makes it a great, albeit somewhat alternative, Holiday movie. The dialogue is sharp, witty and delivered with great joy by almost every one involved. The trailer alone is full of cool sentences like “Move a little strange, you’re gonna get a bullet. Not a warning, not a question… a bullet!”. The movie has a lot more.
While it’s not Tarantino’s best movie, he once again shows us that he can make great movies revolving around very simple ideas. Since the reviews are quite a mixed bag, this is a movie I’m curious how people will be looking back on this movie 10-20 years from now.