Cert: 18 Runtime: 167 mins Director: Quentin Tarantino Cast: Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L.Jackson, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, Michael Madsen, James Parks, Channing Tatum and Bruce Dern
You only need to hang mean bastards, but mean bastards you need to hang
The Hateful Eight has been in the headlines since the day of it’s conception. From Tarantino’s announcement, to the script leak, to the book plan, to the table read then finally to the film itself. Unfortuantley The Hateful Eight did leak on-line before Christmas. But Tarantino’s vision should be watched at the cinema or you end up on the naughty list probably. He was one of the first directors I delved into growing up so he has always been part of my film going life. The big question is has he got another hit on his hands? What is the Hateful Eight about you ask? While racing toward the town of Red Rock in post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) encounter another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) and a man who claims to be a sheriff. Hoping to find shelter from a blizzard, the group travels to a stagecoach stopover located on a mountain pass. Greeted there by four strangers, the eight travelers soon learn that they may not make it to their destination after all.
The Hateful Eight is a suspense thriller kind of film with a who-done-it plot, it starts off slow but builds to a grand finale. It’s an artistically very pure film, all shot in 65mm, and more akin to watching a play in a small theatre than going to the movies. Unfortuantley I haven’t seen it in 70mm but hey ho. Don’t expect non-stop mindless action, but if you have a brain between your shoulders chances are you’ll find yourself glued to the edge of your seat. It’s not perfect. Some plot elements were added for that typical Tarantino off-kilter comical effect, but about half of them end up feeling a bit forced and staged rather than organic. I also feel that while the cast is excellent not all of them fit the setting or the tone of the story. The diversity between the on-screen characters is so great that you wonder if all of them really could exist in the same universe and at the same time, it feels like some of them are trying to do classical western while others are trying to do spaghetti western with hints of western satire. But maybe this was the effect Tarantino wanted? He does like to polarize and create tension between extremes whenever he can. I’m personally not convinced it actually adds to the film though.
Cast wise Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t been this good since Pulp Fiction, I honestly hope he gets recognized for his supporting role. Marquis Warren clearly is Sam Jackson and once you get into the dialogue between him and Bruce Dern’s character about fellatio. You truly get the gist of Warren and how deranged he is. Kurt Russell was the other star of the show, he truly oozes western these days. It felt very John Wayne for the latter in a Tarantino universe. Jennifer Jason Leigh does stand her ground in Hateful Eight. Her comedic timing is on point but she keep a fine balance in her character. Walton Goggins and Bruce Dern do stand out of the supporting cast for me, they seemed more developed compared to Madsen, Roth and Bichir. The Hateful Eight isn’t Tarantino’s best nor worst film. After two straight hits with Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, I didn’t expect Hateful Eight to excel as much. But it’s one of his more artistic films and set in a very morally grey world, don’t expect non-stop mindless action and don’t expect a clear sense of right and wrong. Do expect a thriller with a focus on narrative tension. You have to respect Tarantino’s Hateful Eight for bringing cinema back to film.