Quentin Tarantino has done it again. The Hateful Eight is yet another good movie by the acclaimed writer and director. It hit theaters back in December, but I did not have the chance to enjoy it until last week. Given the film’s three-hour duration, it was difficult to find a good time to sit in a theater for that long, even during the holidays! Having finally found the time, however, it was very much worth the wait.
The Hateful Eight bears the qualities of all of the most memorable Tarantino films like Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, Django, From Dusk Till Dawn, Pulp Fiction, and Grindhouse. With colorful language, racial jabs, and over-the-top violence, it has everything one would expect from a Tarantino film. Besides Django this flick was also Tarantino’s only other Western, but drawing from its predecessors, his latest movie has a good character-driven story, a much simpler setting, and a pretty straightforward plot, which had me scratching my head as to why the story took three hours to tell in the first place. But I’m not complaining because every minute was interesting, beginning to end. There are spoilers ahead, but for anyone who has seen a preview already, there is not a whole lot to spoil.
The movie begins almost like the opening to bad a joke you’ve heard from your bar buddy—“Two bounty hunters, one an African American (Samuel L. Jackson) and one a Caucasian (Kurt Russell), a racist sheriff, and a female prisoner who are all trying to escape a snowstorm stop at Minnie’s Haberdashery where they meet a cowpuncher, a hangman, a retired Confederate general, and a Mexican who is watching the shop…” There is also the coachman who drove the ones previously mentioned to the destination, but I don’t think he was included in the number. While the characters try to get to know the people they will be sharing shelter with for two days, which is how long it will take for the storm to blow over, people begin to grow hostile, suspicion is thrown around, and like any good action movie, the bodies start dropping.
From the previews I’d seen I was really expecting this film to be more of a classic whodunit with the usual Tarantino violence, but there was not a whole lot of mystery to the film. Some of the story is told through quick flashbacks and the film is broken down into chapters. Tarantino does not drag his audiences along much but gets right to the gunplay and, as an action movie fan, I can appreciate that. The only big reveals in the movie were the identities of the villains and a hidden character who is not revealed until near the end, but there was nothing mind-blowing in this, even with the build up to the climactic standoff. I guess you can’t really say there is a lot of character development by the end but the racist sheriff and the African American bounty hunter apparently develop a bond, looking beyond skin color and embracing moral principles and their best chance for survival.
The Hateful Eight is an enjoyable film for anyone who can tolerate Tarantino’s brand of violence. In comparison to his previous films there really isn’t a whole lot of blood, just two heads being blown apart and a bit of blood blown out from bullet wounds. The performances were great, and even for a violent movie there are still moments to laugh out loud. And as I said before, there isn’t really anything to complain about since it was pretty straightforward. The only two questions I was left with by the time I left the theater were “Did Samuel L. Jackson’s character honestly kill the Confederate general’s son or was he only instigating a fight?” and “How did the villains, who had only been to Minnie’s place for the first time, know about the door to the basement when the bounty hunters, who apparently knew Minnie and the aspects of her business well, didn’t think to investigate anything there even when they suspected that Minnie and her friends’ corpses were somewhere nearby?”
The most interesting part of the movie is waiting to see who is really in cahoots with whom and who will be the last man standing. If you enjoy a simple Western or just enjoy Quentin Tarantino and/or Samuel L. Jackson give The Hateful Eight a chance and I promise you will love it!