Hateful Eight has great performances, beautiful cinematography and haunting score, but it’s also a self-indulgent overlong Reservoir Dogs 2.0.
A bounty hunter makes his way through the Wyoming winter to reach the town of Red Rock and bring his prisoner to justice. However along the way, he finds himself sharing shelter with a number of nefarious characters and soon finds out that the raging blizzard outside the cabin is the least of his concerns.
Hateful Eight has everything that you would expect from a Tarantino film: a B-movie pastiche splattered with over the top violence and a vehicle for his obsession with the N-word.
In someone else’s hands this would have been a straight-to-video movie but The Hateful Eight has enough deft execution to elevate it past the trappings of its second-rate genre.
The movie offers nice compositions thanks to the 70mm format but its the deft camerawork and blocking in the impossibly spacious cabin of Minnie’s Haberdashery that elevates a film with a barely there story. There’s a really slow build-up here that would be complete torture if it weren’t for the cinematic visuals, production design, original score by Ennio Morricone and captivating performances.
The Hateful Eight features a cast comprising of Tarantino regulars and some new faces. Channing Tatum is miscast and Micheal Madsen is unnecessary but the rest are spot on. This includes Samuel L. Jackson as another smooth talking character with the juiciest lines but he’s still entertaining; Kurt Russel as a workmanlike bounty hunter; Jennifer Jason Leigh as a leering criminal who can take as much punishment as any of the guys; Walter Goggins as the comic relief in the midst of all the violence, and Bruce Dern as the run-of-the-mill but effective racist general.
While the movie is another display of Tarantino’s ability to create artistic violence using forgotten genre’s, there’s a sense that he’s scraping the bottom of the barrel here as Hateful Eight is essentially just Reservoir Dogs 2.0.
The Hateful Eight isn’t a movie per se, but rather a repetitive stage play that doesn’t kick into gear until about three fourths of its running time. It’s divided into chapters and pans out clumsily with an awkwardly placed narration by Chapter 4. When the mystery finally unravels, its not much of a revelation.
Tarantino is known for his immersive dialogue but the anecdotes here, albeit interesting thanks to the delivery, doesn’t advance the plot but only serves as a distraction. In-depth conversations about Civil war and justice are used to stage violence through one dimensional characters who are nothing but products of their environment. Plenty of that violence is directed to Domergue and turns into a running gag.
The movie finishes with a sort of reconciliation between a black Major and a racist white sheriff as they manage to deliver frontier justice. It’s a classic Tarantino moment that aims to justify the violence that preceded it but rings hollow, especially when it also celebrates the death of a character who’s no more hateful than the rest, but still gets the end of the rope.
Overall, The Hateful Eight doesn’t have enough material to justify its running time, its atrocities, and the panoramic format of its 70mm film stock (which only a limited number of viewers will enjoy because there’s a few projectors that can handle it).
However, it can be said that it’s a well crafted movie with great performances and some entertaining moments. The question is if that’s enough of a reason for everybody else to sit through.
If you’re a hardcore Tarantino fan you’ll enjoy it. If you have the patience to sit through a slow build-up with useless dialogue sprinkled with racial slurs to watch despicable characters kill each other, then you’re set.
In this critic’s opinion, it’s a overlong half-baked movie with auteur bloat that serves as a one-time distraction.
My Rating: 6.5/10