As my friends and I exited the theater this past weekend from watching The Hateful Eight, I said aloud what everyone else was thinking: Quentin Tarantino has completely lost his f****** mind. Not in a negative fashion, I mean that he has lost his mind in the most complementary way possible. Tarantino has never played by anyone's rules. He's constantly making films that go against the conventional means. If one were to read the Screenplay's Bible, you'd notice that Quentin doesn't much concern himself with a three act structure, characters that are relatable or even a coherent, linear plot. No, he makes pictures that HE enjoys first and if they audience likes it then great. If they don't, then forget 'em. That's Tarantino.
It seems that the jury is hung on whether or not The Hateful Eight is a Western masterpiece. While I don't think that it's the finest crafted film ever made, I do think that it's a enjoyable bit of fun, and a great way to spend 3 hours. The movie is a classic case of who-dun-it murder mystery. Kurt Russell is notorious bounty hunter John "The Hangman" Ruth, who is transporting criminal Daisy Domergue (wonderfully played here by Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the sheriff's office in Red Rock. Unfortunately he wasn't counting on a blizzard riding up his ass, and the two are forced to reside in a haberdashery (a general goods location) where they come across 6 other curious characters. These include a fellow bounty hunter in Samuel L. Jackson's Major Warren, a crotchety old Southern General played by the always fun to watch Bruce Dern, and what seems to a seedy cowboy with a hidden agenda played by Mr. Blonde himself, Michael Madsen. Not all is it appears, and soon Ruth suspects that someone is not who they claim to be. Believing someone is there to help spring the fugitive Daisy, Ruth, and the audience, attempt to unravel the mystery.
The plot is not overly complicated, but to tell you the truth that's fine with me. I'm getting pretty sick of movies like Interstellar where the screenplay tries to spoon feed the audience exposition and plot points that are overly complicated. It's very refreshing to have a story that doesn't require the audience to go "Wait, what's happening again?" The Hateful Eight is about uncovering someone who is a possible traitor. There may be interesting subplots involved, but that is the meat-and-potatoes of the film.
The simplicity of the plot allows the characters, and the respective actors playing them, a great chance to convey interesting backstories and colorful dialog. In fact, I would say that 90% of this movie is only dialog. The First and most of the Second Acts are pretty much just characters talking to each other. But the movie is not dull for second. The characters interacting with one another is one of the highlights of the film. The conversations are interesting, comedic and intriguing. The actors have excellent chemistry with one another. Jackson plays off perfectly with Walter Goggins' Sheriff Mannix. Tim Roth's delightful British hangman plays surprisingly well with . . . well just about everybody.
So the movie moves at a very conservative pace. Tarantino takes his time to properly set up the characters and their relationships with one another. And naturally once he's done doing that, he lets the violence rip. And rip it does as one character after another is shot in the balls, stabbed in the back, hanged to death, and poisoned to the point where they're violently puking blood. Everywhere. And on people.
The Hateful Eight I must say is Tarantino's most violent film to date. That's right, the man who brought us the infamous ear slashing scene from Reservoir Dogs and the butt raping scene in Pulp Fiction has truly outdone himself here. There were moments where even I was flinching, and I've seen some of the most violent films imaginable. There was one scene in particular that involves Samuel L. Jackson, his penis, and a Mexican standoff. And that's all I'm going to say.
It's not hard to imagine that average film goers might disapprove of The Hateful Eight. It does move in a slower than average pace, but it's enjoyable for people who are fans of classic films. I wouldn't compare this to a conventional Western either. It's more like The Thing meets Reservoir Dogs meets True Grit. Whatever it is, it's pure fun down to the excellent character portrayals to the wonderful paranoid inducing score from Ennio Morricone. It always seemed like the director had free reign over the production of his films, but now Tarantino has proven he's making movies that he likes first and the audience second. That's fine if he's going to make more movies like this. Hopefully his next two, and possibly last films, continue this trend of creativity and bravado. Well done sir.
The Hateful Eight Trailer
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