The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight
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In his eighth film as writer and director Quentin Tarantino explores the idea of a whodunit set in the wild west on rocky and mountainous terrain in the midst of a blizzard not long after the American Civil War when old wounds have not yet had time to heal and resentments are still festering.
It is a film of epic proportions and sturdy ambitions and at two hours forty-eight minutes long it could in the hands of a lesser director and less skilled, convincing and dedicated cast be meandering. Instead it is a tour de force which envelopes you like the blizzard which blows throughout its dramatic outpourings.
The film begins with Ennio Morricone’s wistful but strident soundtrack alongside a panoramic, sweeping long-shot creating a feeling of grandeur and vastness where the film’s main protagonists Major Warren, a renegade union officer and suspected war criminal eerily portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, hitches a ride with ruthless Bounty Hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) who is transporting the murderous Daisy Domergue, a captivating and wily Jennifer Jason Leigh, to Red Rock where she will be hanged for her crimes and he will pick up the large reward for her capture.
Along the way they pick up the newly appointed sheriff of Red Rock Chris Mannix, played with excellent comedy inflection by Walter Goggins before they head for shelter at a well-known stopping shop, Minnie’s Haberdashery.
It is at this juncture that the film shifts from the vast expanse of the great outdoors and settles into the claustrophobic setting of one room where in addition to those already mentioned Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Bob The Mexican (Demian Bichir) and Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) join the company and the real action begins.
The dialogue and situations are of the high standards one has come to expect from Tarantino and the unfolding of events in a series of chapters, including one flashback scene, gives the narrative cohesive structure. The performances are all brilliant in their own way but Leigh and Jackson steal the film with wily performances wherein they both continually try to outsmart each other.
Channing Tatum also makes a brief appearance although I have never really seen the point of him before and his performance here does little to convince me otherwise. Mercifully his appearance is brief and he doesn’t interrupt the flow or the dynamic tension the others have thus far created.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Tarantino film without the gore-fest and a ridiculous amount of blood shed and this film doesn’t disappoint in this way. Interestingly the final scenes resemble ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in this capacity and that comparison becomes even more poignant and apparent as two of that previous film’s cast -Madsen and Roth- are also present in this film.
As an addition to Tarantino’s canon –the eighth in a supposed series of ten before he retires from film making to pursue other projects- The Hateful Eight is an impressive one. It is a film of colossal standing and length but it never feels as if it is trying too hard- the blood drenched massacre scenes aside- nor despite its excessive length does it ever feel too long or overstated. The powerful dialogue, undeniable chemistry and accompanying soundtrack always seem to work in perfect synchronicity thus creating a cinematic outing that delivers successfully on many levels.

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