Probably the most intense game of who dunnit you’ll ever play.
Meticulously written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight tells the story of bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) who is set on bringing his live contract Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock to hang for her crimes. However being caught in a blizzard on the journey into Red Rock, he must take refuge in Minnie’s Haberdashery with 6 other suspicious looking gentlemen, one of which maybe conspiring with Domergue to take her bounty for his own or be working in league with her to escape. The rest of the plot is then dedicated to a cluedo type plot where characters John Ruth and fellow bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) attempt to discover which one of these Hateful Eight isn’t who they say they are.
Just from that brief plot description it’s obvious that this is yet another intricately written screenplay from Tarantino. Famous for his dialogue heavy films this is no exception. The dialogue is intense, quick witted and at many points hilarious and being of one of Tarantino’s most heavily dialogue driven movies to date there is never a dull moment because of how riveting the conversations between characters are. There are quite a few plot similarities between this and Reservoir Dogs, however the story is still told in such an original fashion that the similarities become irrelevant.
The Great Ennio Morricone returned to his roots to compose the score for this film which is nothing short of spectacular in itself, the score mirrors the intensity of the screenplay and is a real throwback to music in Western greats such as the Dollars trilogy, which he famously composed the scores for.
Shot on Ultra Panavision 70 by Tarantino’s choice cinematographer, the film was given a wide release of its original 65mm format as well as its globally released digital version. The 65mm film means that the movie is shot using an ultra-wide angle camera which basically means it has the ability to fit a lot more into image into a frame. However, many have wondered what the point was in going through the effort of shooting in this special form of film for the majority of the movie to be set inside a carriage and Minnie’s haberdashery (one large room). Well, not only is there a large opening sequence which consists of beautifully shot panoramic images of wherever it is the film is shot in Southern America, but the way the camera is put to use in Minnie’s is really interesting. Even though it is such a wide angled camera, Tarantino is able to create such claustrophobia within the walls of the haberdashery. The 65mm film gives the ability to fit every character into the frame at once which sells the idea of the who dunnit plot as we are able to see how certain characters react in correspondence to actions towards Domergue.
All the performances are great; Tarantino always seems to bring out the best in Samuel L. Jackson and this maybe the best he’s been since Jackie Brown. But the star of the show has to be Jennifer Jason Leigh as the most Hateful member of the eight, she plays the vile Daisy Domergue to perfection in a role which I believe could put any other supporting role this year to shame.
One of my main problems with The Hateful Eight is the fact that although it is undeniably well made, there is something missing. Throughout the movie I couldn’t put my finger on what it was until I realized that it may be the Tarantino style which I have become bored of. When it comes to his famous style which brought films like Pulp Fiction into the spotlight, nothing feels new, I can list many factors about the film I can respect, but nowhere near as many that I enjoy.
Pacing in the first act also became too slow for my liking, some scenes appeared overly dragged out because of how extensive the screenplay is, and as I’ve already said the dialogue is permanently brilliant however I believe the amount of time spent in the carriage on the journey to Minnie’s could have been shortened as I found myself waiting for them to arrive rather than being fully invested in what was happening in the carriage.
The Hateful Eight is yet another entertaining Tarantino movie which takes his unique style to the very extremes. Its very well written, has an A-class return from Ennio Morricone and outstanding performances by Leigh and Jackson.