Say the name around the office, and you are undoubtedly going to begin a gush of adoration from any number of your co-workers. The pedestal upon which the American director has been placed is almost unrivalled in modern cinema, and it often seems that in many fans’ eyes, the man can do no wrong. Whether discussing Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, or his later work such as Django Unchained or even the quite frankly uttely overated Deathproof, the esteem in which he is held is untouchable. As such, it is with some trepidation that I approach this review.
The Hateful Eight is Tarantino`s eighth film (because apparently the two Kill Bills only count as one), and features the mandatory all-star cast, with regular alumni Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson leading up the titular band. Following a group of bounty hunters and misfits as they are holed up in a cabin during a blizzard, things quickly begin to turn sour as the double-dealing assembly begin to off each other in suitably bloody and over the top ways. What follows is a tense and twisting couple of hours with some of cinema’s elite.
The biggest problem with The Hateful Eight however, is just how freakin’ long it takes to get going. The first hour of the three hour epic is so utterly slow paced that at times I felt myself wondering whether I had enough change for the bus home rather than concentrating on the typically pithy dialogue. Had the film kicked off when our heroes arrived at the cabin, every moment of the movie would have been a delightful watch, but Tarantino seemed more concerned about making his film as arty as possible instead of actually making it enjoyable for the audience. Five minute long shots of horses running followed by ten minute swoops of the Wyoming mountains are not what I have spent my hard-earned cash to see.
That said, once the longest prologue of all time is done with, what transpires is a typically Tarantino-esque tale of trickery and treachery, made all the more thrilling by a quick witted script that would make a fantastic stage play, often feeling more like David Mamet than Tarantino.
Performances are solid throughout, with Jackson delivering his trademark “angry black man” with aplomb, and Russell doing a great job as the aging bounty hunter John Ruth. The highlight however is Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Machinist, Road to Perdition) as the unhinged murderess Daisy Domergue. Leigh is wickedly funny as she cackles her way despicably through the blood-soaked proceedings, her insane lip-licking creepily reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Demian Bicher (Che, A Better Life) is also delightfully understated as Senor Bob, the cabin’s Mexican handyman.
Overall, The Hateful Eight is a solid contribution from the American auteur. Had an editor been brave enough to insist the director cut about an hour’s worth of the film, it could have been one of Tarantino’s best. Unfortunately, as it stands, the film is over long and somewhat self-satisfied in a way that takes out much of the pleasure that could have been had. That said, there is still fun to be found.
If I never see another shot of horses pulling a bloody stagecoach though, it’ll be too soon.
Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Scr: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bicher, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum
Prd: Richard N. Gladstein, Shannon McIntosh, Stacey Sher
DOP: Robert Richardson
Music: Ennio Morricone
Run time: 187mins
The Hateful Eight is out now iｎ cinemas nationwide.