Quentin Tarantino brings us his eighth film (of an apparent ten) in the form of The Hateful Eight. Two years ago he brought us Django Unchained which, in my opinion, was possibly the worst of his films thus far. When The Hateful Eight seemed to be set in similar times I wasn’t thrilled. Was I right to be nervous or is Tarantino back?
The film starts with John Ruth, Kurt Russell (Bone Tomahawk, Furious 7), in a stagecoach heading to Red Rock with his fugitive captive Daisy Domergue, Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Machinist, Road to Perdition). As they travel through a wintery landscape, trying to keep ahead of a snowstorm, they encounter Major Marquis Warren, Samuel L. Jackson, who’s taking his bounty kills to Red Rock to collect the money but needs a ride. Next up the trio encounter Chris Mannix, Walton Goggins (Django, The Bourne Identity), who claims to be Red Rock’s new sheriff, something Ruth disputes.
As the blizzard gets worst the group are forced to seek refuge in Minnie’s Haberdashery, a well known place, most have been before. Upon arriving they encounter a Mexican, Bob, Demian Bichir (The Heat, Che) who says he’s taking care of things with Minnie visiting her sister; Oswaldo Mobray, Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs) who claims to be the hangman of Red Rock, Joe Cage, Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill) and a confederate general Sanford Smithers, Bruce Dern (Nebraska, Monster). As the storm intensifies, it becomes clear that not all is as it seems.
Back to my original question, was I right to be nervous? Absolutely not is the answer. This is Tarantino back to his best. It’s a fantastically shot movie and the humour that permeates the script is a brilliant touch, it lightens what could have been a hefty going viewing given a run time of just over three hours! But the script zips along and three hours is over before you know it. I’ve seen hour and a half films that have felt longer than this.
The performances are fantastic, particularly Tim Roth who switches between accents with aplomb, going from cockney to posh Englishman like it’s the easiest thing in the world. Russell is a commanding lead figure with Leigh acting almost his comedic side-kick, his contempt for her is palpable whilst you never really know how she’s feeling most of the time.
Samuel L. Jackson can now pull off these rolls with effortless ease that he commands the scenes he’s in. Bichir and Madsen don’t have as much to do as the others, whilst Dern plays the doddery old General fantastically well. Goggins in this role of ‘who’s side is he on’ does so well, he squirms at times and booms at others, adding comedic timing in all the right places.
This is a great film, the music from Ennio Morricone fits like a glove to Tarantino’s script, but make no mistake it’s the script that wins out here, funny, violent and with the usual lengthy diatribes punctuated throughout. Bring on nine and ten.