The Hateful Eight (R) ★★

Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Dern star in "The Hateful Eight." Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company.
Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Dern star in “The Hateful Eight.” Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company.

A Rare Miss in Tarantino’s Wheelhouse

Anyone who walks into a Quentin Tarantino film can typically expect a few things –snappy dialogue, clever plot twists, and stylized violence. In his latest film, The Hateful Eight, Tarantino delivers the violence, but falls short on his trademark wit and storyline. At three hours run time, the shortcomings make this movie a chore to get through.

Many people may expect this film to be in line with Tarantino’s last two films, the historical revenge movies, Inglorious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012), which received lots of Oscar buzz. There are some similarities with those two flicks, but The Hateful Eight’s plot and language just does not live up to those earlier works. The snail’s pace of the movie requires a lot of patience from the audience. Also, much of the action takes place in an old lodge, which does give the audience a sense of feeling trapped like the characters, but also slows the pace further. The movie does it have its moments, however, the exceptional acting from Walter Goggins (Diablo, 2015), the fantastic score from veteran composer, Ennio Morricone, and several great sequences of action and banter written by Tarantino. However, the typically brilliant filmmaking techniques of Tarantino are stifled by the tedious plot.

The Hateful Eight takes place in frontier Wyoming a few years after the Civil War in the middle of a massive blizzard. The film opens with a carriage plodding along the road until it comes across an African-American Civil War Veteran, Maj. Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson, Avengers: Age of Ultron, 2016) whose horse has died and is towing three dead bodies to the city of Red Rock to collect the bounty for his bodies. Eventually, the carriage door opens, and fellow bounty hunter, John Ruth AKA “the Hangman” (Kurt Russell, Furious 7, 2015) who is famed for seeing his bounty hanged allows Maj. Warrant to ride along with him provided he does not disrupt the delivery of his live bounty, the wanted murder Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Welcome to Me, 2015). The two who have shared history agree to partner to protect their bounties and continue on their way until they encounter yet another person on the road, Chris Mannix (Walter Goggins), a Confederate soldier who claims to be the new sheriff at Red Rock.

Ruth is highly dubious of Mannix’s claim, but lets him join in, and the four travelers eventually arrive at a stagecoach lodge, where they seek refuge from the storm. When the four arrive at the location, they are surprised to see the proprietors missing and in charge is stranger, Bob the Mexican (Demain Bichir, The Bridge, 2015) along with three other mysterious characters played by Tarantino regulars – Timothy Roth (Hardcore Henry, 2015), Michael Madsen (Death in the Desert, 2015), and veteran actor, Bruce Dern (Nebraska, 2014). After Ruth goes around and investigates who everyone is, he is not satisfied and warns Maj. Warren that he thinks someone in the group is lying about their identity and disarms everyone in the lodge except for Warren and handcuffs his bounty, the foul-mouthed Daisy to his arm. As the winter storms howl outside, the tension inside boils over and eventually people’s true nature and intentions are revealed with deadly results.

Bottom Line: The Hateful Eight has some great moments, but the western mystery thriller is too long, and the story plods along. Tarantino fans should wait for the film come out on DVD.

Credits: Directed and Written by Quentin Tarantino

Cast:  Samuel L. Jackson (Major Warren), Kurt Russell (John Ruth), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Daisy Domergue), Walter Goggins (Sherrif Chris Mannix), Demain Bichir (Bob / the Mexican), Tim Roth (Oswaldo Mobray), Michael Madsen (Joe Gage), and Bruce Dern (General Sanford Smithers)

Studio: The Weinstein Company

Running Time: 168 minutes

Jessica Aymond © January 5, 2016