Nothing says “holiday season” like over-the-top blood and f-bombs.
“The Hateful Eight” is, ironically, the eighth feature film from writer-director Quentin Tarantino. When eight strangers (Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern) get trapped in a lodge during a blizzard in post-Civil War Wyoming, they begin to realize that not everyone is who they say they are.
I’m not a huge Tarantino fan, but I do think every one of his films are varying degrees of solid, with “Inglourious Basterds” being his crowning achievement (and one of the better films of the past 10 years). So I went into “Hateful Eight” just expecting fun dialogue and explosive shootouts, as have come associated with Tarantino films. And it is with regret that I say that this is the first time I have come out of one of his films feeling something close to disappointment.
It takes a while for “Hateful Eight” to get going, as almost the first hour is characters coming into the story, and this is my first gripe with the film. Most every single character is introduced to fellow characters, and the audience, the same way: a third party says something along the lines of, “no way! Is that really [insert character’s name, occupation and claim to fame here]?!” It is pretty lazy to get exposition out of the way using this method, but coming from Tarantino, the so-called master of dialogue, it is almost insulting.
Once things start to get going, they do get going, with some intrigue and a nice little mystery. Only the film doesn’t allow you to play along and solve the mystery yourself, it just lets things play out. It is interesting to see how everything goes down, but since there aren’t any clues given, all you can do is sit; guessing and seeing if you were right would’ve been more fun.
There eventually is all the blood that Tarantino is known for, and as far as quantity of it this may be his most plentiful yet. But if you’re catching on to the trend of this review, this compliment is accompanied with a “but.” And the but here is since the whole film takes place inside of a one room cabin, the action feels compacted and isolated; there’s no space for the characters to really breath. One could argue that is the point of the film and it very well may be, but it does sometimes just take away a sense of fun from the Tarantino shootouts we’ve been spoiled by over the years.
A final side gripe: there are a lot of n-words in here. In a film like “Django Unchained” which is about slavery, maybe that can be excused. However this time around it just seemed like Tarantino was saying the n-word for the sake of saying the n-word. I wasn’t offended by this, but it seemed unwarranted and almost pretentious.
I enjoyed “The Hateful Eight” in bits and pieces, but it is definitely a letdown. The twists aren’t quite mind-blowing enough, the action isn’t quite satisfying enough, and the dialogue just doesn’t have quite enough pop. It will appeal to Tarantino fanboys (and there are plenty of those to go around), and there are a few smart moments of political and social insight that may get some thinking, but otherwise there isn’t much in this movie worth remembering, and that’s a gosh darn shame.
Critics Rating: 6/10