The Hateful Eight is one of those films that I suspect I will grow to love over time. It’s probably about 30 minutes too long, it’s noticeably uneven, and it’s Tarantino’s most overly-talky film to date, but yet I cannot find enough reasons to not highly recommend it. Its gratuitous violence seems a bit over the top even for Tarantino. Blood spills all over the place in this one, but it isn’t at all cartoonish violence like we saw in Kill Bill. The movie is ugly and truly “hateful”, but damn it if it isn’t one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen this year.
Just as the title suggests there are eight dangerous individuals whose paths cross in the snowy Wyoming Mountains at Minnie’s Haberdashery. A blizzard rages as we open up in a stage coach where John Ruth “The Hangman” (Kurt Russell) is transporting an already bloodied and bruised prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Ruth has just reluctantly let another passenger aboard. It’s a fellow bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and he has a stack of dead bodies that he needs to get to Red Rock, the same place Ruth is trying to go, so he can see Domergue hang. We learn that Ruth and Warren have crossed paths before, yet they don’t trust each other, which becomes the reoccurring theme throughout for pretty much every character. Along the way they pick up the newly minted sheriff of Red Rock Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). Who better to spit Tarantino’s modern day Shakespeare than Goggins. He made his character, Boyd Crowder, a basic cable legend by spitting faux-Tarantino soliloquies for six seasons on FX’s Justified. Even though he’s one of QT’s new recruits to the ensemble, the triangulating mistrust between Mannix, Ruth, and Warren on the stage coach ride is devilishly engaging, especially with Domergue’s beady little eyes watching the verbal sparring match.
Once we arrive at Minnie’s we are well-acquainted with four of the eight, but then we get the other four as we enter the cabin. There’s Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), Senor Bob (Demian Bichir) and Joe Gage (Michael Madsen). When John Ruth starts to question all of the new players if there is anybody committed to stopping him from taking Domergue to Red Rock to hang, the tension builds and builds and the whodunit begins. Who’s in cahoots? Who’s the good guy? Who’s the bad guy? I’ve got news for everyone – there is no good guy. Although John Ruth seems like he is going to materialize as the story’s one person with a heart, because Kurt Russell is generally your de facto hero of whatever movie he’s in. He’s not though, not this time. He’s a sorry S.O.B just like the other seven. Shots are fired, verbally and literally over and over and as the story unfolds it gets more brutal and bloodier by the minute. But I laughed a lot too. Maybe Quentin and I are kindred spirits in the fact that we are a bit twisted when it comes to what makes our funny motor hum. I laughed a lot at several sequences involving Warren and Mannix. Let’s just say they were written extra juicy parts for this one.
Some will have strong opinions about this movie’s attitude towards women as Daisy Domergue seems to be getting punched in the mouth about every five minutes. Others will point to Tarantino’s continued penchant for throwing the n-word around. I’ve got some more news for you. Quentin Tarantino doesn’t give a shit what you think. The Hateful Eight is as nihilistic a movie as you’re going to find. It doesn’t believe in anything. There is no message. Quentin Tarantino is dead set on carrying the torch of Peckinpah’s amoral shoot em ups. The Hateful Eight is Django Unchained meets Reservoir Dogs in the vein of Steve Jobs. It’s a wild flick that feels more like an R-rated play than it does a western. If Django was QT’s hip-hop remix on the genre than The Hateful Eight is most assuredly his punk song. A three hour and two minute punk song.
And it even has an intermission*
*Try and see it in 70mm if you can. Just something else you can talk about over a piece of pie after you watch it.