There are two things Quentin Tarantino loves to have in his movies: characters talking and lots of violence.  He gets to indulge both in The Hateful Eight, a combination western and mystery.

Shortly after the end of the Civil War, bounty hunter John "the Hangman" Ruth (Kurt Russell) is outracing a blizzard in the mountains on Wyoming.  He's captured Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and is bringing her by stagecoach to the town of Red Rock, where he'll collect a $10,000 bounty and she'll be tried and hung.  He's also not above beating her to keep her quiet.
 Along the way, Ruth reluctantly picks up two passengers.  Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) is a fellow bounty hunter, bringing three bounty corpses worth $8,000 total.  Chris Mannix (Walter Goggins) is a former Confederate who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock.
 The travelers can't outrun the blizzard, so stagecoach driver O.B. Jackson (James Parks) stops at an outpost called Minnie's Haberdashery to wait out the storm.  There's they find an array of assorted characters.  Senor Bob (Demian Bichir) is a Mexican feller left in charge when Minnie went over the mountain.  Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) is a British gentleman who's a professional hangman, who'd hang Daisy.  Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) is a cowboy planning on visiting his mother.  And General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) is an elderly former Confederate leader.  The group are stuck together until the storm passes; but Ruth is convinved that one or more of them aren't what they seem, and that they're working with Daisy to free her -- even if that means killing everyone else there.
The Hateful Eight feels like two separate movies.  For the first three quarters of the movie, Tarantino (who wrote and directed the movies) is content for the movie to meander, as characters engage in long conversations with each other.  Then at the end, the screen turns into a splatterhouse, and violence and gore pretty much engulf all the characters.  There's an artificial feel to the dialogue (which goes on and on, leading to the movie's excessive running time) and the excess of violence at the end (and often directed at the film's main female character) feels self-indulgent.

That's not to say there aren't some good parts to this movie.  There's a stellar cast assembled, and if Tarantino doesn't always get the best of them here, the talent still shines through (especially from Jennifer Jason Leigh, late in the movie).  The gallows, crude, and racist humor sometimes works, though it can be off-putting as well.

The Hateful Eight isn't a terrible movie, but it is a terribly flawed film.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: