To premise this review, I am a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino. From the first time I saw Pulp Fiction to the ninth time I saw Django Unchained, Tarantino has grabbed my attention and held it throughout. Sadly, Hateful Eight didn’t feel the same to me. I enjoyed the movie, but it was not the same eye-grabbing sort of film I am used to seeing from Tarantino. So without further ado …
The story of Hateful Eight starts with Kurt Russel as John “The Hangman” Ruth, (when John “The Hangman” Ruth catches you, you gonna hang.) who is a Bounty Hunter. John (Russel) is taking his latest bounty into town to be hanged when he comes across another bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (played by Samual L. Jackson). The bounty is Daisy Domergue (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) who no one seems to know who she is, other than John Ruth’s bounty. Marquis (Jackson) doesn’t really care and just wants a ride into town because his horse died. John, after scrutinizing Marquis for several minutes in the snow decides to let him ride. There are some pretense and discussion all of which is mostly irrelevant to the plot but adds some flavor to the characters. Later down the road, they run into Sheriff Chris Mannix (played by Walton Goggins). Chris (Goggins) is the newly appointed Sheriff of the town they’re all headed towards but has lost his horse. This puts John on edge and he puts both Mannix and Warren in chains until they reach a cabin. There is where the bulk of the story takes place, sadly it is also where the originality of the film takes a dive.
So, to review we have two bounty hunters, one with a couple of dead stiffs and one with a live bounty who no one really knows who she is, but John is still suspicious of everyone. The suspicion of John really is what telegraphs the entire movie. His suspicions are so overplayed that it leaves one waiting for the double-cross. When the coffee is poisoned (and a poor narration breaks in to tell you it was, talk about giving the plot away literally) John and a couple of others die. From here Marquis and the Sheriff are the only “Good guys” left. Then the plot convolutes and you see a shootout that eventually leaves the Bounty Hunter and the Sheriff dying.
Again we have a poorly introduced narration (as a writer this is irritating) which tells the story of what happened before the Bounty Hunters arrived at the cabin. It turns out that the Domergue gang (Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, and Channing Tatum) killed off the cabin tenders to await the arrival of John Ruth and Daisy in hopes of freeing their sister. In the end, Everyone dies.
What was good?
Character development. There is a smattering of banter, backstory, and action that really define the characters on the wagon and the Domergue gang. I found myself laughing and enjoying most of the interaction between characters.
What was bad?
Cliched story. The thing I usually love about Tarantino movies is that someone usually wins out in the end. There is always a high note. This story, however, just ended with two characters (not even the best characters) bleeding out around the rest of the people who died. I can get behind a shootout and everyone dies, but it felt too cliched.
Narration. Alright seriously, I don’t mind the narrator breaking the 4th wall, but in the middle of the movie and just to give details, they could have shown us. Without the narration the coffee poisoning would have been one of those moments I would have practically leaped from my seat with surprise, instead I was told and the suspense then became waiting for the poison to take effect, which just felt like a letdown. I expected it to happen and the story was telegraphed for me. Then again the narrator breaks in and references the movie (now that we’re about half-way through the film) and heralds back to before everyone arrived.
Yes and no.
I would give this film 3 out of 5 only because of the intriguing character development and authentic location shooting. But it loses 2 stars for a contrived story and interupting narrative. Until next time folks.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,