Quentin Tarantino is who he is acts, how he acts and makes the movies that he wants to make without compromise. The Hateful Eight is a definite showcasing of this simple fact, gathering a cast of actors he’s worked with in his previous seven films, joined by some new faces: this film plays like a stage play with bloody result. This should come as no surprise because, really, did we expect anything less from the acclaimed filmmaker that polarizes so many people? I think not.
Going back to the western genre that did so well for him in Django Unchained, in my opinion, Tarantino makes a doozy of a film with this – depending on the cut you see – over three hour beautifully shot character piece. Frozen landscapes, untrusting and untrustworthy characters, gunpowder, blood, brains, all ingredients that make up this event of a film. You will never see a movie like The Hateful Eight and you’ll never forget it.
After a five minute overture to set the tone, with -a great score by Ennio Morricone, we open on a snowy landscape with an approaching stagecoach going by a stone Jesus on a cross rising out of the snow. Driven by the driver O.B., inside the coach is bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his captive Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, just nominated for a Golden Globe for this role. The trip is forced to stop when a new character obstructs the road, sitting on three men, frozen and dead on the ground.
Played by Samuel L. Jackson, Major Marquis Warren is a former Union soldier and now bounty hunter looking to bring his three dead bounties to Red Rock, where, coincidentally, Ruth is bringing Domergue to hang for a $10,000 bounty reward. After some serious deliberation from The Hangman, it is agreed that Warren will accompany them into town ahead of the massive blizzard that is chasing them down.
Then, after one of Daisy’s actions causes them to make an unceremonious stop, they are approached by another character coming out of the snow. This is Chris Mannix, a former rebel soldier, outlaw and, to the disbelief of John Ruth, the new sheriff of Red Rock. Mannix is hilariously played by actor Walton Goggins, who almost steals the whole film. Sure, he’s being a little type cast as a southern redneck but it really works for him. Again and more reluctantly, Ruth agrees to let Mannix come aboard and the group looks for a place to ride out the storm.
They end up taking refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they are uneasily faced by four more strangers, being Bob the Mexican (Demian Bichir), Oswaldo Mowbray (Tim Roth, another scene stealer) Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and ex-General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). Now being forced to occupy one room together with all these strangers, it’s questionable whether anyone will make it out alive after the storm. Everyone has their own motivations and secrets but no one’s cards are on the table, making for an interesting game of intrigue.
As usual Tarantino dazzles with the theatrical fireworks of great dialogue which, more than any of his other films, has extra room to stretch out for some delicious monologues from all these great actors. It is also, in the well known Quentin style, really quite funny. The character development, the storytelling and the subtle nuances of each character makes every actor in this film interesting. The Hateful Eight is an immensely gripping film that is predominantly all dialogue for the first half of the film. With this film, it is my belief that Quentin Tarantino has cemented himself as one of the greatest directors of all time. Big statement, I know, but I’m okay with that.
Now all the big press behind this film has been about the 70 mm Roadshow edition, which clocks in at over 3 hours long with a 12 minute intermission included. I believe this is the best way to see the film and is the definitive cut of the film, as I believe the standard version of the film comes in at about 2 hours and 48 minutes, which hits theatres on New Year’s Day. All movie and Tarantino fans are going to want to see this full cut. Really, how often does an event like this come along? I think it is the due diligence of any cinephile to see this film in its proper format. Unfortunately, now, with the Weinsteins cutting the initial release from 100 theaters to 50 theaters for this format, it may be a little tough but in Vancouver we’re lucky we have to see this at the beautiful Park Theatre.
I feel so spoiled with all these amazing films I’m getting to see at the end of the year with all the movies heading into awards review but it also poses problems. How do I rank some of these films? Where do I fit in an odd gem like The Hateful Eight? I am on the side of the critics that absolutely adore this movie although there’s not a huge amount of them. Either way, I’m happy to be one of them. I give The Hateful Eight a complete and perfect five out of five.