Quick Hit: Not one of Tarantino’s best films, but still entertaining enough to watch.
I’ll preface this review by saying this – Tarantino is not for everyone. His use of historically used terms can be extremely off-putting, as well as his ultra-violence approach to things like vengeance (see Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Django Unchained, etc.). However, for those that can make it past things like those stated previously, you’ll soon find dialogue driven pictures that have a good, if not great story attached to them. And almost always, you find great characters attached to his projects – and actors that really “buy in” to their roles.
Such is the case with The Hateful Eight. There is the nearly omnipresent Samuel L. Jackson as Major Warren, Kurt Russell as John “The Hangman” Ruth, Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray, and the list goes on. You can tell all love the scene-chewing dialogue that Tarantino, who wrote as well as directed the film, gives them to work with. Samuel L. Jackson shines with most of the lines and stories (except for one that I’ll get to later), and Kurt Russell delivers strongly (if hammily) as Ruth. Jenifer Jason Leigh was nominated for a best supporting actress for this film… but I’m not that sure why. I mean, she’s good, yes, but her performance wasn’t the one that left me thinking of it. Instead, that honor belongs to Walter Goggins’s Sheriff Chris Mannix.
Mannix is a character that would be rather easy to hate, and indeed, the first set up of the film indicates a man that is going to be just that – hated. However, as the plot thickens and things begin to happen – you stand strong with Mannix. He is truly one of the characters that keep the humor going, keep the action up, as well as just being a loveable redneck (some might say that is an oxymoron, but I digress).
However, despite being a purely dialogue driven story (despite the action sequences), there are some dialogue scenes that fall flat. At one point, Major Warren is delivering a lengthy monologue to antagonize a fellow character. However, the story is so long and so vulgar that it accomplishes nothing for the audience of the film besides drawing them out of the immersive world Tarantino has built. It happens other times during the film too, which is a shame, because I think this had a chance to be one of his best.
Along with some poorly (directed/written/acted? Not sure where the fault was on those scenes) dialogue, there are some tracking shots that are just unnecessary. I don’t need to see the same horses run through the snow, over and over. I understand that you need to set the mood of isolation, but somehow two carriages have the exact same horses in two different scenes. That is just lazy.
Some of the ideas in this are also pretty derivative. What happens when you put a bunch of bad, mistrusting characters in one room? Answer – bad things. It even happens in one of Kurt Russell’s old movies – The Thing. Cold, frozen awareness? Check. Men trapped in a building, with something slowly terrorizing them? Check. Just seems like the whole idea was The Thing as a western. Which, in a way, is kind of bad ass – just would have liked to see more done with a THREE HOUR RUN TIME!
Overall, I liked it. Didn’t love it, but liked it. It’s for its problems that it gets a B.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"