The Hateful Eight Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Is it just me or does it feel like Hollywood is trying to bring back, and make relevant once again, the old genre called the Western? Iñárritu has recently done it with his film, The Revenant, Gavin O’Connor is doing it in January with Jane Got a Gun, and now Tarantino has done it with his 8th film, The Hateful Eight. But Tarantino takes it one step further, going back to the filming ways of our ancestors in using the 70mm film format. What we get is another Tarantino masterpiece, expanded to just over three hours in length, with a group of killers crammed in a cabin solving a mystery of “whodunit”.

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Wyoming, after the Civil War, John Ruth (Kurt Russell), known as The Hangman, is transporting Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock where she will hang for her crimes and he’ll acquire the $10,000 bounty. Along the way, they run into Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), who has three corpses he is taking to Red Rock for their bounties, and Chris Mannix (Walter Goggins), the new sheriff of Red Rock. Ruth allows them both to hitch a ride, but a blizzard is catching up to them, so they’re forced to stop at Minnnie’s Haber Dashery and wait out the storm. Upon arriving at Minnie’s, she is nowhere to be found, and appears to have left Bob (Demian Bichir) to look over things. Yet the house is already full with hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and retired Confederate general Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). With all the testosterone, and a large bounty on Daisy’s head, it’s only a matter of time before people start falling dead. But who is behind the killings and will anyone live to get the reward?

We’ve come to expect a certain type of film making when it comes to Tarantino: lots of profanity, in your face violence, great dialogue and stories that we’ll remember for ages to come.  And while The Hateful Eight fits into his usual frame of work, The Hateful Eight plays out more like Clue than it does Django Unchained or Inglorious Bastards. One of the differences here is that, the whole film is filled with an uneasiness and tension that you come to expect only from certain scenes. Think back to Inglorious Bastards, the opening scene where Cristoph Waltz’ character questions a farmer about hiding Jews. Or later in that film, the scene downstairs in the bar where undercover operatives are pretending to be German to kill certain people. Those scenes had so much built up tension that we were on edge the entire time knowing something bad was going to happen at some point. Well, I hate to tell you… I’m lying, I LOVE to tell you, The Hateful Eight is just like those scenes, but the entire film! And, as the story plays out, more action begins taking place and the bullets start flying, easing up on some of that tension, yet it still remains even as we approach the closing credits.

Tarantino has maybe put his best work into The Hateful Eight, especially when it comes to the dialogue. A script like that demands that the actors of high caliber bring their A game or it isn’t going to work out. Tarantino brings together a fine ensemble of characters, using many he’s used before, while adding some new faces like Jennifer Jason Leigh, who just happens to be sadistic, highly racist and extremely funny. Samuel L. Jackson has a rather lengthy monologue, yet it may be one of the best speeches in film this year. And, to be honest, this may be Sam’s best performance since Pulp Fiction! The one thing that may hurt The Hateful Eight is that it is a long film, and most audiences aren’t really up for long, talky films that are lighter on action and explosions. Throw in the fact that it’s a Western and it has a couple negatives going for it. But this is Tarantino, and we know he gives us the goods, has solid scripts, great performances and the films are fun. And The Hateful Eight meets all of those expectations, yet we come to it from another direction.

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For those willing to take the time out of your day for a three hour long movie (the equivalent of binge watching a couple episodes on Netflix of some series), you’re in for a real treat. This film is beautiful and grotesque, funny and shocking, and even deep and thoughtful at times. Tarantino gives us a reflection of American society. Where those in power can’t necessarily be trusted and neither can the people they try to protect. We can remove the guns from people but people will always find more or other ways to do damage. You can’t say Tarantino was never one to voice his opinion in one way or another. Memorable characters, an intriguing story, and plenty of snow, The Hateful Eight is just in time for Christmas Day.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


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