Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir and Channing Tatum.
Written and Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Cert: 18 Running Time: 3 hours 7 minutes
“The name of the game here is patience” says one bloodied character to another in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and never a truer word was spoken when it comes to waiting for the film to reach its conclusion as your watch ticks slowly to the third hour. The biggest question is if those precious minutes are worth it and the answer will depend largely on how big a fan you are of his work, for it takes patience to let Tarantino’s eighth film get where it needs to go.
Opening on the snowy mountains of Wyoming to Ennio Morricone’s stunning score, the film looks and feels ambitious and there’s a giddy anticipation as the plot unfurls itself. Bounty hunter John Ruth (played by Kurt Russell) is taking Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to hang for her crimes in the town of Red Rock but when a blizzard sets in, they must hole up in Minnie’s Haberdashery a few miles from town until it passes. Having picked up fellow bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) and new sheriff of Red Rock Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) along the way, they find that Minnie’s is quite the busy stop and one of the other four men assembled (Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen and Demian Bichir) has come to set Daisy free. What follows is a Miss Marple-like needlepoint dissection of who each man is, who’s lying and who’s there to kill everyone in order to save her.
It’s a great premise and the script is wonderful, taking its time to reveal more about each character as you start the guessing game of who’s who. But this is The Hateful Eight and true to its name Tarantino has created these nasty hateful characters who can slay a man not only with violence but with words. In particular Samuel L Jackson’s Major is the vilest of the lot, a sadistic racist that delights in his deep seated depravity. When we first meet him he is sitting astride a saddle on three dead white men so there is no arc of redemption here for him or anyone else.
Jennifer Jason Leigh has the hardest task of them all. Though she gets her fair share of the coolest lines and her performance has all the great hallmarks of a Tarantino baddie, she has to battle her way through the others misogynistic violence towards her. She’s repeatedly punched in the face throughout and her face becomes the barometer of violence as it escalates in the film, from a black eye in the beginning to the blood and guts literally drenching her face where it stays until Tarantino can add some more. The violence is as you’d expect – lightning fast and very very, bloody.
Tarantino’s decision to shoot on 70mm means the film looks and feels epic, the snowy landscapes gorgeously rendered, the actors deliciously framed and you have to applaud Tarantino for sticking to his guns with it for there is no-one like him. However, he has indulged himself perhaps one act too long and as such has himself brought the film to the hangman’s noose.