Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum
Run Time: 168 mins
‘The Hateful Eight’ is Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film and second Western after 2013’s ‘Django Unchained’ (although Tarantino calls that a ‘Southern’) that received critical acclaim. Unfortunately during the scripting process, an unfinished copy of the first draft leaked and Tarantino almost abandoned filming as he was so annoyed. Luckily, he decided to press on with the film and the script finally reached its third and final draft stage. Tarantino has assembled an impressive cast here stating that everyone is ‘equal’ so that they all have a big impact (hence why no Christoph Waltz here) and comprises of Tarantino favourites such as Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen to just name a few.
‘The Hateful Eight’ is another knockout from Tarantino – it’s bloody and gory, has fantastic speeches and an excellent story. It has some brilliant performances with the standouts being Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth and Walton Goggins. It’s suitably gory and ramps the tension up with gusto. My only criticism is it is a little baggy and perhaps could lose 20 minutes and then the film would be leaner and more heavy-hitting. This might not be true, but it also doesn’t seem to have as much of a rewatchablity factor as perhaps some of his other films do.
The cast are undoubtedly the film’s strongest asset and if this hadn’t have been the case, the film would have made for a very boring 168 minutes. Samuel L. Jackson is incredible here and this, along with ‘Pulp Fiction’ is a career-best performance. Tarantino gives him some very memorable speeches and he looks as if he’s having barrels of fun filming this. Jennifer Jason Leigh is the only cast member to receive awards attention and she is one of the strongest cast members here – the way her character is treated evokes strong sympathy for her but when she reveals her true colours, it’s all completely justified. Walton Goggins is also another surprise standout and he also seems to have fun here and has some excellent speeches and also Tim Roth is another interesting character who has a full-on British twang.
Of the others, Kurt Russell is on fine form and chews the scenery and for Demián Bichir, this is a career-best performance. Bruce Dern’s character is very slimy and little by little, more of his true intentions are revealed and he is excellent in the role. The only cast member who fails to make as much of an impression is Michael Madsen, mostly as he is given the least amount of material to work with but his character isn’t as well developed. Madsen is capable of great things as evident in Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ two-parter but he is not as strong here. Finally, it’s a revelation to see Channing Tatum choose a role in this film which diverts from mostly comedic roles and he is very sinister here, although he isn’t a big character.
Tarantino’s story is also gripping and the whodunnit element is a new type of film for him, but he handles it with great confidence. The audience cannot trust any of the characters and characters constantly switch sides. Tarantino hopes to turn this into a play and I have full confidence that this would be successful as the film is very much like a play and with such strong characters and a gripping story, this would easily establish Tarantino into another platform.
Robert Richardson’s cinematography is outstanding and there is a clear contrast between the cold, harsh snow landscape and the cosy yet impending violence in Minnie’s Haberdashery. Even inside Minnie’s Haberdashery, there is a constant presence of the cold wind breathing on the back of these characters. Ennio Morricone’s score is also wonderful and fully deserving of all the Awards attention it is getting.
‘The Hateful Eight’ is another film to add to Quentin Tarantino’s repertoire. It is a fantastically crafted film that has strong performances from its cast and a gripping story. It’s not quite his best film, but it would rank pretty highly in his filmography. As to the film’s Oscar prospectives, I would say there is a low chance of it being nominated in the Best Picture category. Certain elements of the film such as its editing and treatment of women have been controversial amongst critics and I don’t think the Academy will nominate it for these reasons. But as a film, Tarantino has done a brilliant job here and with a slightly more ruthless editor, this would be a 5-star film.