The Hateful Eight (2015)
The Hateful Eight is another hit for Tarantino and should easily amuse die-hard fans.
The Hateful Eight transports us to a period after the Civil War, where bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) escorts prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a stagecoach, led by O.B. (James Parks), that is on its way to Red Rock, Wyoming—where she will hang for her crimes. Swarmed by a freezing blizzard on their tail, the three try to hurry through but come across two strangers: Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). John Ruth, who is a cautious man, questions Warren to figure out whether he is a threat or just a friendly stranger. After Warren answers his questions, Ruth lets him in the stagecoach, but things become even more suspicious when Mannix pops up out of nowhere, requesting a ride with them and claiming that he is the new sheriff of Red Rock. To avoid a guilty conscious of leaving Mannix out in the cold to die, Ruth eventually concedes and allows Mannix to ride with them. The three converse and decide to stop by Minnie’s Haberdashery to stay until the blizzard ceases.
Once there, John Ruth encounters four more strangers—Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Bob (Demian Bichir), and retired General Smithers (Bruce Dern). All the strangers are ostensibly good-natured and friendly, but the Ruth senses deception and concludes that one of them isn’t who he says he is. Believing that one of them is there to rescue Daisy and kill him, Ruth stays on the defense, hoping to catch the liar; however, being stuck in Minnie’s for the next two days with seven strangers may make it difficult for the bounty hunter to find out who is innocent and who is guilty.
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight is the eighth film in his critically-acclaimed filmography. Throughout the years, Tarantino has written, directed, and produced hit films back-to-back, with The Hateful Eight following that trend. The filmmaker proves he has a lot of great ideas and should continue making movies for years to come. While some of his earlier work have been criticized for his uses of homages, in The Hateful Eight, Tarantino goes in a different direction and successfully delivers his most original movie to date.
The Hateful Eight displays true authenticity in its premise: a group of unscrupulous, devious travelers stuck together in an enclosed space during a nasty blizzard. Now admittedly, this premise matches the premise of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, but what separates The Hateful Eight from his other film is that this one blends claustrophobic settings, engaging character dynamics, and mystery plot elements together to make a fun film to watch from start to finish. As a result, The Hateful Eight is an engrossing mystery, comedy-drama, buoyed by excellent writing and direction.
Like Tarantino’s other flicks, The Hateful Eight’s direction is among the film’s highlights. From a directorial standpoint, Tarantino captures beautiful imagery through Ultra Panavision 70mm lenses. Shots of the Wyoming landscape look stunning, while the shots captured inside of Minnie’s Haberdashery establish a feeling of anxiety and claustrophobia. In the tight space of Minnie’s, tables and objects are strategically placed in the room, allowing quick movement for the actors to move openly in the space. Additionally, Tarantino makes the setting feel even more authentic by making the set cold, so the actors’ breaths can be seen when they talk. To that end, Tarantino succeeds at creating a realistic cabin space like the actual Civil War-era cabins.
On the screenplay side, Tarantino plots out a long film, filled with great dialogue, interesting dynamics between characters, and a good balance of comedic and mystery elements. The Hateful Eight runs at 168 minutes (2hr 48mins), allowing Tarantino his signature move of including well-written dialogue between characters. Some of the best scenes show different characters conversing conflicting ideologies through witty dialogue (e.g. Marquis Warren and Chris Mannix); from these scenes, viewers will experience funny banter and/or shocking/jaw-dropping revelations. These revelations play a big part in the story, as viewers learn more about each of the hateful eight, they will grow more suspicious of who’s helping Domergue. This mystery naturally builds up throughout the second and third act, leaving viewers with an enticing, satisfying payoff. On the negative side, Tarantino’s use of flashbacks interrupts the flow of the film and as a result, doesn’t provide natural transitions from the main storyline into the flashbacks. Despite this minor hiccup, The Hateful Eight’s strong writing still manages to keep viewers’ attention until the very end.
Another highlight of the film is the acting. Tarantino always recruits top acting talent for his films and, he does so with The Hateful Eight. Leading the charge is Kurt Russell as John “The Hangman” Ruth. Russell, along with all the other actors, delivers a great performance. As Ruth, Russell exudes cautiousness, charisma, and determination. His exchanges with the other characters show off Ruth’s aggressiveness and quick thinking. Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins also deliver great performances as Major Marquis Warren, Daisy Domergue, and Chris Mannix, respectively. All three performers turn in award-worthy performances. While Jackson and Goggins bring wit and levity to their roles, Leigh brings repellent and amusing attributes to the character of Daisy. It is a particularly hard role to nail down, especially since she must repel and gain sympathy for the audience simultaneously. With Leigh in the role, she turns Daisy into one of Tarantino’s most interesting female characters. Other actors Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, and Demian Bichir fittingly embody their roles. Each one of them matches up to the main actors, providing the film with great performances from all around.
The Hateful Eight is another hit for Tarantino and should easily amuse die-hard fans. Fans may not see this as his best film in his overall body of work, but they will agree that it should be in the Top 5. With great direction, a well-written screenplay, and phenomenal acting, The Hateful Eight is an original mystery/crime film, made by one of the best modern filmmakers of our time.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
- First image: IMDB
- Second image: IMDB
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- Fourth image: The Verge