In the midst of a blizzard, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find
solace in a cabin occupied by a number of nefarious characters.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen,
Bruce Dern, James Parks
Oscar Wins - Best Original Score (Ennio Morricone)
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Best Cinematography
The eighth film by Quentin Tarantino is the first film in his career to actually suffer from his over-inflated ego. The Hateful Eight aspires to greatness, but fails to reach it due to clunky dialogue and a disappointing final act. The film's main strengths lie in its talented ensemble and its gorgeous cinematography, as well as Ennio Morricone's score. After two decades of awesome films, it was only a matter of time before Tarantino shot for the moon and missed. Unfortunately, this was that time.
The Hateful Eight takes place in the Wyoming wilderness a few years after the end of the Civil War, where racial tensions were still very high. Bounty hunter John Ruth, nicknamed "The Hangman" (Kurt Russell) is transporting his bounty, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to hang. Along the way, he runs into another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and the two make a deal to guard each other's respective bounties. When they arrive at Minnie's Haberdashery to escape the impending blizzard, they find themselves facing down a collection of people who are hiding something. Tarantino did a good job fleshing out most of these characters, though I would argue that Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Demián Bichir were all criminally underused, with most of the film's focus being on Jackson and Russell, as well as Walton Goggins, who I would argue stole the show.
The Hateful Eight suffers from an inflated run time and a serious issue stemming from Tarantino's massive ego. It's almost like the film is too big to fail simply because it's one of his. I'm here to say that this film does have a number of flaws, but it's also highly entertaining. I refuse to say that the film is great because the filmmaker is great. There are times when a great filmmaker can produce a film that is, in some ways, a disappointment. While I wouldn't go so far as to call The Hateful Eight a disappointment, I also won't call it Tarantino's masterpiece.
Quentin Tarantino's eight film, The Hateful Eight, may just end up being his first major disappointment. The film suffers from an unnecessary runtime, Tarantino's signature dialogue not really being that great, the humor mostly falling flat, and an underwhelming ending. Now, unlike a lot of director's first disappointing film, The Hateful Eight still ended up being a good time thanks to the beautiful score, gorgeous cinematography, and excellent performances from the cast. So, while not the standard great Tarantino film I was looking forward to, a still fun time at the movie nonetheless.
I'll start with the good. The cast all give great great performances. Both Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson bring their usual gravitas and charm to their respective roles. They create interesting characters that may or may not be hiding something. The standouts, though, were Walton Goggins and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Both seem to be having a blast in their roles and stole the show every time they were on screen. While the rest of the cast was also great, they generally serve as more of background characters. The cinematography is also outstanding, making Wyoming look suitably cold during the winter. For Western fans, it was also nice to hear Ennio Morricone's score throughout the movie, showing he hasn't lost his touch. Now, for the bad. Tarantino has made a career out of writing some of the best dialogue ever conceived for film, but, unfortunately, that was missing here. Most of the dialogue is actually kind of forgettable and not up to par with the director's previous works. The humor, another Tarantino signature, mostly falls flat. Whereas Tarantino has expertly crafted funny moments out of uncomfortable situations before, he didn't quite get it this go around. Besides one or two funny moments, the rest of humor didn't quite work. Finally, the runtime, a problem that's been getting worse with his past three films. There were several moments I felt where the film could have been trimmed down some, as it felt there were a couple moments of dragging.
I know I've made it sound like I absolutely hated this movie, but rest assured I did not. Thanks to the three huge positives the film has going for it, I still enjoyed my time with it and generally liked it. It just felt that due to the behind the scenes drama that was so famously publicized, The Hateful Eight ended up suffering in the process. It can definitely be felt in the film's ending, which has to be one of the filmmaker's most underwhelming and weakest ending he's done. Still, this is another solid effort from one of the best filmmaker's of this generation and fans should come away mostly pleased.