Review: ‘The Hateful Eight’ Is Yet Another Tarantino Classic
A group of people are stuck in a cabin in the middle of a blizzard. No one trusts anyone, everyone is armed, everyone has a backstory that seems vague and untrustworthy, and everyone has their own agenda. It’s one of those movies where you think you know what is going to happen, but you end up changing your mind throughout the entire film. I thought I had an idea of who not to trust, but that I go back and think of other things that happened and that fades. Thinking you know what is going to happen in a Quentin Tarantino film is fruitless. Sure, you may guess the ending of one or two of his film — Django Unchained being an example — but this one keeps you guessing.
Whenever Tarantino comes out with a new film, it’s an event for people who appreciate fine film making. He’s everything a film maker should be: he can direct, write, edit and so on. The Hateful Eight was a film that was nearly never produced. Someone leaked the script of the film and Tarantino basically said “f*ck this,” and then actually mentioned the number of people, which was “six motherfucking people.” I could see why he would be pissed off. The movie has a run time of 167 minutes, and if you know Tarantino, that script was probably full of amazing dialogue he didn’t want anyone to hear until they went to the movie.
Premise: In post-Civil War Wyoming, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Russell) is escorting fugitive Daisy “The Prisoner” Domergue (Leigh) to Red Rock where the latter will face justice for murder. They encounter another bounty hunter named Major Marquis “The Bounty Hunter” Warren (Jackson) and Chris “The Sheriff” Mannix (Goggins). A blizzard forces the four to take shelter at a stagecoach passover called Minnie’s Haberdashery where they encounter four more strangers; Bob “The Mexican” (Bichir), Oswaldo “The Little Man” Mobray (Roth), Joe “The Cow Puncher” Gage (Madsen), and ex-General Sanford “The Confederate” Smithers (Dern). Through betrayal and deception, the eight strangers soon learn that they may not make it to Red Rock after all.
It takes a talented film maker to put all of these people into a room and have it all be thoroughly entertaining. The last time I saw something like this was probably 12 Angry Men with Henry Fonda. That movie is one of the best movies ever made. And having experience in a jury room with quite a headlined case, I can tell you that there are stubborn people in each jury room even if there is overwhelming evidence.
It’s not just that movie that seems to have influenced this film, but oddly enough, this movie feels exactly like The Thing. You can’t trust anyone in that movie. Who’s the bad guy? Who’s the good guy? Are there more than one? Is there only one? When bad things start happening, there is no trust in anyone. Even when some trust is earned after revelations occur, more bad things happen that erase that trust. The Thing is one of the greatest mystery/thrillers there is, and The Hateful Eight borrows from it in all the right places. It’s also a nice tough to have Kurt Russell in the film. He’s such a great actor in a film with this type of setting, obviously.
The film is full of the usual Tarantino trademarks: witty dialogue, Samuel L. Jackson, a classic theme (western thriller), amazing ensemble cast, lots of blood, the overwhelming use of the N-word, amazing soundtrack (Ennio Morricone!), Mexican standoffs, unconventional storytelling, and I could go on, but you get it.
As with all of his films, they all feel like Tarantino films, but they also have their own distinctive tone. Imagine your favorite band. You know that a song you hear is from that band, but you couldn’t put that song on a different album. It would sound strange because the band was in a different mindset when they made one album versus one made 10 years later. Tarantino manages to make his movies his each unique yet unrecognizable from his other work.
Does The Hateful Eight have flaws? Sure, there are a couple here and there that probably could’ve been fixed: lagging or overlong shots that could’ve been cut, the use of the N-word so much that it felt like it was in every other sentence, the silly jargon used by characters that seem disconnected with the time period, and some have motives that seems confusing as the story progressed. You can overlook these flaws and still love the film.
Overall, I’d say this is definitely a movie that you should see in theaters when it comes out. It’s one of those films that keep you paying attention the entire time and not wanting to go to the bathroom to miss anything. Every character was fleshed out so well that if you miss something, you may miss everything.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post,UPROXX,BGR and by just looking up his name.