Quentin Tarantino can be an acquired taste. The director of ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and others often divided critics and fans alike. Whilst his films have an abundance of quotable dialogue and some amazing performances, most haven’t gelled quite as they should. ‘The Hateful Eight’ is an example. Just as overly drawn-out and self-indulgent as previous works, ‘The Hateful Eight’ still amazes due to the acting. Less is always more which Tarantino ignores even if being in the company of his latest characters conjures intrigue.
After the American Civil War, bounty hunter John (Kurt Russell) is on a stagecoach with his murderous prisoner Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Whilst travelling to Red Rock to put her on trial and collect the reward, he picks up another bounty hunter Marquis (Samuel L Jackson). With a blizzard settling in, they stop at a refuge where they meet several other men. Striking an uneasy acquaintance, soon they discover a common link. Events turn deadly as secrets are revealed with those among them not quite whom they seem.
Lovers of tough and gritty westerns should enjoy ‘The Hateful Eight’. Filled with unsavoury characters and plenty of blood-letting, it fits perfectly with Tarantino’s directorial style. You’re never quite sure where the multi-chaptered story will go but can be assured surprises will surface. Like his other works, Tarantino injects lots of monologues and strong references to the era in which ‘The Hateful Eight’ is set. Generally it’s engagingly done with the production design giving ‘The Hateful Eight’ a stage-like feel with only the props and characters fuelling genuine tension.
The percolating angst aids in making ‘The Hateful Eight’ watchable in spite of its over-long run-time. Like many other recent films, it mistakes near 3-hour opus for quality when an editor’s eye could have made for a more compelling narrative. What’s on offer is diverting but the meandering screenplay defuses much of its impact. Russell, Jackson and company turn in fine performances regardless with cinematography bringing the harsh landscape to startling life. The mix of drama, mystery and humour also works in creating a mostly interesting character-driven story.
‘The Hateful Eight’ isn’t something worthy of hate although high praise would be difficult as well. An ‘impressive’ rather than ‘amazing’ effort from Tarantino, although even at this mid-level his ode to rough westerns enables one to feel grateful they didn’t live in such harsh times.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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