The Hateful Eight full movie review - The characters once again carry Tarantino's film.
The 8th film by Quentin Tarantino marks the first time that the acclaimed director has returned to a genre from a stylistic point of view.
While Django Unchained was a western set during the slave trade era in the American south, The Hateful Eight is a 'whodunit' which brings to mind Reservoir Dogs if it were presented as a western set during post-civil war America. That's right, the auteur filmmaker that takes reference from many different films from many different genres now seems to be referencing his previous works, and thankfully, The Hateful Eight uses this to it's advantage to tell a story which is thoroughly entertaining and features a charming cast of characters.
Opening in Wyoming during a big freeze, Tarantino and his cinematographer Robert Richardson manage to capture the landscape from the very first shot as a stagecoach makes it's way along a small trail towards the town of Red Rock. It's a beautiful sight to behold and fully utilises the film's 70mm format to present the harsh American wilderness to viewers, a decision which, though hard to justify during the films later sequences, was both bold and brilliant during the opening minutes. From here, we're introduced to many tropes that have become synonymous with Tarantino's films. There's a chance meeting between Kurt Russell's John Ruth and Samuel L. Jackson's Major Warren which leads to a lengthy exchange that features dialogue as gripping as it is humorous, informative as it is entertaining. Tarantino has always been a master of dialogue, allowing it to move his scenes forward while providing subtle exposition that doesn't underestimate the intelligence of the viewer. Both Russell and Jackson shine during this exchange, displaying an on-screen chemistry which suggests a mutual respect between them, despite their initial wariness of each other. Jennifer Jason Leigh also does well with much more limited dialogue, showcasing Dasiy's fierce nature with a series of piercing looks and vile gestures. The arrival of Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) injects even more humour into the stagecoach sequence as well as providing tension as the films post-civil war themes are realised for the first time. Mannix is never as intimidating as Leonardo Di Caprio's plantation owner Calvin J. Candie, yet his opposing viewpoint of the war provides conflict between himself and Major Warren and invites the audience to question his true identity.
Upon arrival at Minnie's Haberdashery, where the rest of the film unfolds, we're introduced to even more characters which complete the 'hateful eight' in the film's title. Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) does his best Christoph Waltz impression, inflection and all, as the British hangman due to execute Daisy in Red Rock, Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) is the mysterious stranger claiming to be writing his own life story, and Bob (Demián Bichir) gives Major Warren enough reason to suspect that something isn't right. As Ruth and Major Warren attempt to figure out which of the men present may be working with Daisy, the whodunit aspect of the film begins to play out, like Reservoir Dogs in a cabin, and the narrative begins to move forward during scenes which provide conflict between the characters, particularly between Major Warren and General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), an aged veteran with a hatred towards African Americans. This portion of the film slowly plays out as each character is treated suspiciously from Ruth's Major Warren's point of view which ends with a particularly heated exchange between the Major and General Smithers in which Samuel L. Jackson delivers a magnetic performance not seen since Pulp Fiction.
The film's final hour begins to reveal each character's motivations and true identities in order to wrap up proceedings and in doing so, it features a narrative voice-over from Tarantino himself and a flashback which explains how Mobray, Bob, and co. found themselves at the haberdashery. The latter aspect does, however, feel slightly out of place with the rest of the film and though it once again allows Tarantino go against conventional storytelling and present events out of chronological sequence, it serves very little purpose other than this. Yes, the information revealed may be crucial to the plot, yet the unnatural transition between the previous scene and this flashback is almost sloppy filmmaking very rarely seen within a Tarantino picture. It's also important to note that during this drawn out sequence, the 70mm format is wasted. With so much conflict between the characters in such a tight space, the film should have felt almost claustrophobic during this drawn out sequence, yet the 70mm format presents the haberdashery as a bigger space than it actually is and allows the characters almost too much breathing room as tensions continue to rise. The reveal of who exactly is in cahoots with Daisy itself also fails to provide any real shock value, despite being a key part of the film, and any hope of a surprise twist ending is quickly shot down. Nevertheless, the talented cast manage to deliver note-perfect performances throughout the latter part of the film, Roth in particular stealing many scenes as the British outsider caught between Americans with opposing beliefs, and the characters remain engaging throughout. The blood-soaked finale may also be the most violent thing Tarantino has produced on screen up until this point and will satisfy fans of excessive filmmaking without falling into ridiculousness.
There is no doubt that Tarantino has produced between films than this during his mostly-stellar career, however, that does not mean the The Hateful Eight is a disappointment. The characters he has crafted once again carry the film even during some of it's weaker moments, and the cast capture their roles perfectly from start to finish. Though many may desire a less predictable end to the film, Tarantino instead caters to fans of his previous works with excellent dialogue and more violence than is necessary, and that is certainly not a bad thing by any means.