The Hateful Eight (2016) Review:

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Runtime: 187 minutes

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, et al…

Plot (taken from IMDb): In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.


The Hateful Eight image one

Like a good progressive rock track, The Hateful Eight builds and builds until an incredible crescendo. Tarantino’s whodunit Western is at times a laborious watch, but the payoff makes the whole three hours worth it.

The Hateful Eight is a slow-moving film, with longwinded introductions given to the entirety of the incredibly strong cast. Each part is played incredibly well too. Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson in particular give standout performances, both at their very best in long and distinguished careers. The acting had to be good though, as The Hateful Eight is set in two locations – a horse-drawn carriage and inside a guest-house to be precise.

This film is set out like a stage play, with pre-defined acts and everything. A true intermission would’ve been great though, just for relieving purposes; three hours is a long time to sit and watch a film. I can’t remember any film that used pre-defined acts within the story, and The Hateful Eight forces it down your neck. It literally spells it out. It’s an odd technique, but it totally works, given the plot, pacing and settings.

The hateful eight image two

Like a stage-play, The Hateful Eight never gets too complicated visually, with little-to-no special-effects present throughout its bloated runtime. Rather surprising though, is the film’s cinematography. It’s a visually striking film, despite its limited settings and cramped environments. Tarantino knows his way around film, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that everything works, but it does. This is a film that exceeded my expectations.

The character interaction and dialogue is top-notch throughout, again, something you’d expect from a Tarantino production. There are some memorable lines in the script too, ones that I’ll probably be quoting for a good long while. It’s funny throughout too. As with most Tarantino films comedy comes near the top of the list. There is always a lot more to a Tarantino movie as well, The Hateful Eight is no different.

This is a film that wears its inspirations on its sleeves whilst trying something new. It’s a filmmaker’s film, a movie-buff’s film. It’s a smart film. It trundles along at a snail’s pace, true, but there is always something new going on, another thread of plot slowly developing (or unwinding) in the background. It employs a bold approach cinematic storytelling, one that is pretty unique.

The Hateful Eight image three

The Hateful Eight’s greatest strength can be its greatest weakness too. At times the slow pace becomes too much and it did occasionally get bogged down in small details. Three hours is a long time to spend with anybody, especially if that’s in an enclosed space too. I applaud the filmmakers for trying something a bit different, but I did find myself yearning for a little more visual variety.

I would’ve liked a little more tension, too. We know that Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is being taken to hang, and that there’s a big bounty on her head. John Ruth (Kurt Russell) makes it incredibly clear that she is his to hang, and the money is his too, issuing a fierce hands-off warning for any that want to steal her from him, but nobody really seemed to care that much. They all had their reasons for being trapped together, but I would’ve appreciated a little more tension around the room. There should’ve been more of an attempt from anybody to steal Daisy from John Ruth.

As I said earlier however, the last third of the movie is outstanding. Everything erupts. It’s amazing. From a slow-moving tale with intertwining characters and plot threads to the opposite extreme in one fell swoop. It’s cathartic. The explosion of violence, noise and anger is a sight to behold, a cacophony of blood and music. Like a good progressive piece of music, it sticks in your head. The Hateful Eight is a very memorable film.

Summary:

The Hateful Eight isn’t for everyone thanks to its slow-pace, bloated runtime and limited settings, but for the film fan it offers up something fresh, bold and exciting. It ticks all the Tarantino boxes, but in a less exaggerated way than before. The crescendo at the end of Tarantino’s Western opera is spectacular, making the whole film stick in your head.

4.5/5

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