It was the moment we all waited for: Quentin Tarantino’s latest cinematic spectacle. The Hateful Eight is a story about a bounty hunter who is transporting a criminal in a stage coach to be hung. But as the blizzard worsens, he and his passengers need to stay over at a haberdashery where they encounter several nefarious men, with the question being: Can any of them be trusted?
I just want to be up front about this: I am a Tarantino fanboy. When I hear about a new Tarantino film, the world stops turning and everyone needs to shut up and sit down. So when I watch a Tarantino film there is a substantial amount of bias going into it. I expect a great film and even if it’s not that great, it’s still Tarantino.
Such is the pedigree of this iconic auteur that when he releases a film, we immediately want to know what he’s working on next and how long we’ll have to wait. I was waiting in anticipation.
Despite the fact that it’s Tarantino, as I’ve become more analytical of films I’ve discovered that you have to leave reputation at the door. Pulp Fiction is brilliant but that does not mean that every other Tarantino film after it is going to be flawless. This brings me to The Hateful Eight.
At a running time of around three hours – yes, THREE hours – and given that Tarantino loves his dialogue, I knew there would be some lulls in this film. But I did not expect this to be right at the beginning.
We got so much exposition in the first act of The Hateful Eight that I wondered if there was ever going to be any action at all. Three hours of stage coach chit chat would have been the death of me. Thankfully that was not the case.
Once they arrived at the haberdashery and a few more characters were introduced, things got infinitely more interesting, with a very gory murder-mystery kicking things off. Subtle is not the word to describe Tarantino or his latest feature, with some gratuitous violence engulfing the rest of the film.
The writing of The Hateful Eight is great, but the performances really sell it, especially that of Jennifer Jason Leigh as the convict set to the hung. A strong female actress was needed to portray a strong female character among a group of veteran actors such as Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, and Samuel L. Jackson. She does such a fine job that she’s earned a nomination in the best supporting actress category at the 2016 Academy Awards.
Look out for top performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins as well. Seeing Jackson in a leading role in a Tarantino film for the first time in almost 20 years (Jackie Brown) was quite a treat and he took the role to incredible heights.
To sum up, this latest offering from Tarantino is not his best by any stretch of the imagination, and it takes quite some time to get going, causing you to ask yourself what the hell is he doing. But when it hits you, boy does it hit you. Great performances, exceptional dialogue and a beautiful Ennio Morricone score saves The Hateful Eight from the tragedy of being another Death Proof.
Rating: The Grateful Eight… out of 10.