Is there really no wrong that Quentin Tarantino can do in the matter of his films? This guy just keeps on making hit after hit after hit and he shows no sign of slowing down. The Hateful Eight is, ironically, the eighth movie released by Tarantino and it follows eight strangers who are sheltered in a cabin but there might be something more sinister a foot. One of the strangers stranded is a wanted criminal named Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is the prisoner of John Ruth, played by Kurt Russell, who is bringing her to a town called Red Rock to be hanged for her crimes. Along the way to Red Rock, John Ruth picks up Major Marquis Warren and Chris Mannix, played by Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins, as stowaways to help them through a coming blizzard. When they stop at the cabin, they come across more strangers including Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Bob (Demián Bichir), and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) who are also looking for shelter from the oncoming blizzard.
Now to be honest, out of all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, this is probably one of his weaker ones. Not that I still didn’t really enjoy this movie because a lot of Tarantino’s tropes are still in this movie such as: the interesting dialogue, pulse-pounding intense scenes, likable antiheroes and a lot of blood squibs. However, this was the first time I was watching a Tarantino movie and I was wasn’t 100% invested in all of the dialogue between the characters. Both John Ruth and Marquis Warren are very interesting and likable antiheroes but sometimes when they were talking and explaining their own story, I wasn’t totally invested in what they were saying. When I watched movies like Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained and Pulp Fiction, I was leaning out of my seat and was completely entranced with everything the characters were talking about. Here, while I did enjoy a lot of the conversations, including one great one including John Ruth, Major Marquis Warren and Chris Mannix about Mannix and Warren’s past actions and mistakes, I wasn’t always taken in by the dialogue and I even lost track of some of it.
Another problem with the movie is that this is the first Quentin Tarantino movie where I thought the plot dragged on a bit. Now, I’m not talking about how movies like Daddy’s Home and Sisters dragged on because those movies felt like they would never end. But by the time the film got to the fourth chapter, I checked my phone for time because I was realizing that this movie’s running time is just over the 3 hour hump. Not that this really movie dragged on or anything, like I was in pain, but when the end credits popped up on the screen I was actually pretty tired and stiff. Although, the movie still gives us a lot of great performances from Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins but unfortunately some of the other performances are a little forgettable. Tim Roth is pretty known for play some loud and eccentric characters from Pulp Fiction to Incredible Hulk and to even the Planet of the Apes remakes where he may have been incredibly silly and funny but he was still very enjoyable and fun to watch. Here, he doesn’t really do anything that memorable or to set him apart from the rest of the cast.
Michael Madsen plays the usual quiet, gruff tough guy that you sort of expect him to portray in every Tarantino movie but only one was actually memorable (Reservoir Dogs) but here, he really just blends into the background and you sometimes forget he’s in the movie. Not that these are bad performances or anything, it’s just that I wish the script gave them more to work with and made them stand out more from the rest of the cast. Bruce Dern does a great job of playing a seasoned Confederate General and the back and forth between him and Major Marquis is intriguing… Even if it does go to place that is a little bit of a, for lack of a better word, childish detour for the movie. I won’t spoil anything for anyone who has yet to see the movie but it does give some unnecessary shock value for a Tarantino film.
The performances that really stand out though are Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue and Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren. Jennifer’s portrayal as this disgusting, unapologetic murderer who is really being brutally dragged to her death but still has this cocky and laughable attitude towards the situation and her captor, John Ruth, is really something to watch. You hope by the end of the movie she gets what she deserves but she plays the role in just a way that you want her to stick around long enough to keep more of a impact on you. The only problem I have with her role is that she doesn’t really do anything except get abused by men and sit around with blood on her face for the whole movie. Tarantino has given us a lot of great female power roles such as The Bride from Kill Bill, Alabama Whitman from True Romance, Jackie Brown from Jackie Brown and pretty much all the women from Death Proof who kick a lot of ass and take no crap from anyone. Yet, Daisy is suppose to basically be our villain for the film and she basically does nothing which is a real shame because Jennifer Jason Leigh tries her best to bring so much life to the character.
Major Marquis Warren, however, is a great antihero that I have no issues with because Samuel L. Jackson portrays him with such charisma and likability that you immediately get sucked into every single scene he’s in. In my opinion, this is the performance that should have been nominated for an academy award instead of Jennifer Jason Leigh. While I did enjoy Jennifer’s performance, Samuel Jackson’s performance is the one that kept me intrigued throughout the entire film. That’s probably why I started to come out of the film at Chapter 4 of the movie because Major Warren is not in that sequence. There is this brilliant scene between Major Warren and Damien Bichir’s character where Marquis is interrogating him and it was so intense and amazing that it was the moment that I was leaning out of my chair toward the screen with so much intrigue.
The story of this film is very well put together. Tarantino uses his old trope of showing different viewpoints throughout a short period of time that we’ve seen from his old movies like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. The whole film is very similar to the set-up for the 1982 horror classic “The Thing” where the characters don’t know who to trust and tensions rise throughout the cabin while nobody can go anywhere because of the harsh weather conditions. Unfortunately, the payoff near the end of the film is kind of underwhelming, not downright awful or anything, but I just think I expected more from the great Tarantino. Like I said, I kind of wanted Daisy to do more than sit around and I wanted the ending to not be so predictable. I don’t necessarily blame Quentin for the ending to be predictable because honestly the movie couldn’t end on any other note except for the one that everyone was thinking of. Not that the ending was bad, it was very fitting to the story but I would have liked a bit more of a twist to it.
Maybe I’m just nitpicking because all in all, I do recommend this film to anyone who likes both Tarantino movies and intense situations. This movie really does know what to do with this set-up and takes almost every opportunity to make it a great intense thrill ride. Does this movie have more problems than some of Tarantino’s other films, sure but that doesn’t mean Tarantino is showing any signs of slowing down. I still wait with excitement to see what else Quentin Tarantino can think of to make another hit classic film.