The Hateful Eight provides everything a Tarantino die hard would expect – bloody gore, snappy dialogue and a little bit of self-indulgence. However, anyone not invested in Tarantino’s unique taste is probably going to gag at the length and style of this 3 hour slow western.
The Hateful Eight (2015) is the eighth film by Quention Tarantino and boasts an ensemble cast including the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, and the list goes on and on. It follows 1800s Bounty Hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russel) who gets stuck in a cabin during a blizzard with a number of shady characters on the way to collect the bounty on infamous criminal Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The premise alone has an enthralling sense of intrigue and the film does an excellent job of drip-feeding information about the characters while still keeping them mysterious. All eight (hence the title!) scoundrels stuck together are uniquely characterised and well-written in their own way. The dialogue isn’t up to Tarantino’s usual wit as its more interested in the jargon of the time period, which doesn’t make it quite as engaging (a fact helped along by quite a bit of repetition) as usual, but even bad Tarantino dialogue is better than most other screenplays. The other issue I have with the film is its length. In pure runtime, The Hateful Eight is 3 hours of snow, blood and guns. While I’m not opposed to long films, nothing in the movie’s plot warrants it being this long – theoretically, it could be half this length and still cohesive. The way Tarantino drags out certain scenes and conversations isn’t necessary and feels self-indulgent at times. Particularly the first act is ridiculously long, and takes almost an hour to get all the characters in the cabin together (which is by far the most interesting part). While not a deal-breaker as it never truly loses intrigue, its definitely frustrating and the main reason I am very hesitant to sit through it again.
The cast varies from solid to spectacular (just like Tarantino’s filmography!). Samuel L. Jackson grabs the most screen time as Major Marquis Warren and while he is definitely enjoyable to watch there’s nothing in his character that he hasn’t done before. Its just the typical L. Jackson persona in a western yet again. Kurt Russell is about the same. Judging from his previous career, his hard-edge Bounty Hunting character isn’t much of a stretch. The real surprise of the cast is Walton Goggins as future Sheriff Chris Mannix. His character starts off grating, but ends up as arguably the most endearing and changed characters in the entire film. That character’s arch is the most significant in the entire screenplay and Goggins rises from relative obscurity to the challenge. A similar sentiment can be applied to Jennifer Jason Leigh who’s foul and wretched enough as Domergue to stand out and leave an impression amongst the cast. The rest, Tim Roth, Demián Bichir, Michael Madsen and so on are also all capable – just not on the level of the rest of the cast (although special mention to Roth’s hilariously hammy British accent).
In summary, The Hateful Eight’s script is not up to par with his usual standard, and the length is kind of ridiculous, but this is still exactly what Tarantino fans want. A bloody good cast, great characters and a sense of intrigue all make this an engaging piece of classic cinema. But to everyone else… just be aware of what you’re walking into.
General Audiences: Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended
True Believers (Tarantino): Highly Recommended