The Hateful Eight

Jennifer Jason Leigh in a scene from "The Hateful Eight."  (AP)
Jennifer Jason Leigh in a scene from "The Hateful Eight." (AP)

What it's about:

After the end of the American Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. Bounty hunter John Ruth and his captured fugitive, Daisy Domergue, race toward the town of Red Rock, where Ruth intends to bring Domergue to justice. Along the road, they encounter Major Marquis Warren, a former Union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix, a renegade who claims to be the town’s new Sheriff. Losing their lead on the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover. When they arrive, they are greeted by four unfamiliar faces: Bob, who takes care of Minnie’s in the owner’s absence; Oswaldo Mobray, the hangman of Red Rock; cow-puncher Joe Gage; and Confederate General Sanford Smithers. As the storm overtakes the mountainside, our eight travelers come to learn they may not make it to Red Rock after all.

What we thought:

The Hateful Eight is a throwback to old Westerns, strangers who meet on the frontier with dark agendas, but without the ruggedly good-looking cowboy to save the town. Quentin Tarantino is renowned for his clever writing, witty dialogue, unique exposition and violence that has a point. I was very excited for his take on the Western genre, but unfortunately left feeling I had seen better from the guy who loves leaving his characters in a gory mess.

Set in the period after America’s civil war was won, eight strangers get caught in a blizzard in the middle of nowhere and are forced to hole up in Minnie’s Haberdashery as they wait for the storm to blow over. But as expected, not everyone is who they say they are.

With Tarantino films, although he might not hit the mark with this film comparatively to his others, The Hateful Eight still is a good film in terms of Hollywood. Unfortunately, I did not leave the cinema feeling amazed at what I had just seen, unlike Django Unchained, and the main reason for this was the lack of character in Tarantino’s hateful characters. Each one just had one defining quality about them, with no real development throughout the script which left the audience not having any real emotional investment in any of them. You did not care if any of them lived or died, you weren’t rooting for anyone to succeed in whatever plan they had and left the cinema with indifference.

This might be deliberate on Tarantino’s part to convey the message of the title – all the characters are pretty hateful – but there wasn’t even on character that I loved to hate, a villain that stood out as the most despicable. 

The film also wasn’t exactly Tarantino’s most intelligent films, with a script that was okay (again, compared to his previous work) and his violence didn’t have the shock factor or a point really. You kind of glanced over it without really taking note of it, and I normally love Tarantino’s bloody spectacles. Granted, there were a twist or two I didn’t see coming, but nothing that made you go “holy crap!”

Cinematography were as normal well-thought out, but won’t be able to contend with The Revenant for Best Cinematography at the Oscars. 

As for the performances, the two that stood out were Walton Goggins, who plays an ex-confederate dim-witted future sheriff who ends up not being so dim-witted after all, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is outstanding as the rude prisoner on her way to be hanged. The latter was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the upcoming Oscars, and I have to agree she took on that role with fervour. It’s a travesty Goggins hasn't gotten any nominations anywhere, but unfortunately such a big ensemble makes it hard to determine the lead. As for Samuel L. Jackson, he’s pretty much plays Samuel L. Jackson.

On its own, The Hateful Eight is a decent film with a lot of killing and swearing, but in regards to Tarantino’s repertoire it ranks pretty low on the ‘blow-your-mind’ scale. An average film, but a good average film.

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