After much wrangling, script leaks and rethinking if he even wanted to finish the film, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight arrives in theaters. According to IMDB there are THREE cuts of this film. An R rated 167 minute version, a 175 minute version and the Roadshow version which is 187 minutes. I searched for about an hour for a theater in the Nashville area that was playing the 187 version which opens with a musical montage and even includes and intermission, but it was nowhere to be found. The only version that I could find was the 167 minute version so this review is for that version.
As it stands, we all know what to expect from a Quentin Tarantino film. Over the top violence, clever banter between well drawn characters, a story told in flashbacks, and lots of bad language. This being his eighth film, The Hateful Eight will not disappoint Tarantino fans……for the most part. I am happy to say that I was glad Tarantino went ahead and finished this film for all to see.
The film is a western and features a dream cast that stars Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, James Parksm, Demian Birchir and Walton Coggins. They are all scalawags in some form or fashion who are stranded in a Wyoming cabin (haberdashery, as it is called in the film). All of them are bounty hunters, or a sheriff and a retired Confederate General. The main bounty hunter is a merciless cad named John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (Kurt Russell) and he is transporting Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock where she is to be hanged. Along the way, Ruth picks up Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and the new sheriff of Red Rock who has yet to be sworn in (Walton Coggins). Once they arrive at the cabin a suspicions arise and a battle of wits ensues among the nine inhabitants. Someone is not who they say they are. Since a lot of money is at stake for the bounties, tempers begin to rise as suspicions are realized with horrific results.
Tarantino does what he does so well in The Hateful Eight. He gives us characters that are interesting that excite and scare us all at the same time. Whether we love them or hate them, we are intrigued by the way Tarantino creates his characters. They are full of life and extremely engaging to watch, even though we might be repulsed by what they say and do, it is hard not to be involved with them. The entire cast is terrific from Russell and Jackson’s brashness to Leigh’s wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing persona. Roth, Madsen, Dern and Bichir are solid as well. Which brings me to Walton Coggins. I had never seen him in very much up until now. The last I saw he had a recurring role as Boyd Croweder on the TV show Justified with Timothy Olyphant. He knocks his role in “Eight” out of the park. He should be considered for a best supporting actor nod as Sheriff Chris Mannix. He is funny, charismatic and scary all at once and he steals the show. He is terrific and I loved watching him go at it.
Tarantino is able to tell his non-linear story in a series of flashbacks that cleverly show how everyone is who they are and he does it with a soundly dark and funny script. The first hour or so is the setup for the third act of the film. It almost entirely dialogue driven and Tarantino shows we he is so good at his style of film making. The conversations are charged with politics. race relations, good versus evil and it is written with intelligence and an acerbic wit.
The cinematography by Richard Robertson and editing by Fred Rasking (both have worked with Tarantino on his other projects) is gorgeous, sharp and crisp. It really captures the landscape, the extreme cold and the isolation of the cabin. Ennio Morricone provides an amazing score for The Hateful Eight. Tarantino usually uses songs to score his films and this was Morricone’s first western score he had composed in over forty years. Morricone is responsible for some of the all time great spaghetti western scores of all time most notably the Clint Eastwood films like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and For A Few Dollars More. At 88, he shows we he is still going strong. He has four other films he is scoring at this time and I would be stunned if Morricone was not nominated for an Oscar this year for The Hateful Eight.
The Hateful Eight is everything you hope for in a Quentin Tarantino film; funny, violent, smartly written, dark and bloody. If you can understand what you are in for with this film, then most people will love it. Tarantino knows what to do, knows how to do it and does it like no other. Is this as fresh as Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill? No, but we Tarantino fans are not asking him to reinvent the wheel. The wheel is there and Tarantino keeps it rolling in style.
The Hateful Eight- ****1/2 out of 5
The Hateful Eight- Rated R (no matter what version you see) for violence, language and gore
Run Time(s)- 167 minutes; 187 minutes; 175 minutes. Know what you are in for..a three hour film.
Playing in theaters now. Check you local listings for times.