Movie Review: The Hateful Eight
By Clint Chirpich
January 11, 2016
Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite filmmakers and I always look forward to seeing his newest offering every two or three years. Since his breakthrough in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs, he has delivered some of the best and most entertaining films coming out of Hollywood. He's developed a very unique and easy to recognize style - crackling dialogue, interesting characters, over the top violence, and inspired casting choices are among the most obvious clues you're watching a Tarantino film - and because of this, if you're not a fan of his style, his films might not be for you.
Thankfully, I am a fan and I was treated to yet another excellent film last night when I sat down to watch The Hateful Eight, a traditional western with the Tarantino twist.
The plot of The Hateful Eight is very straightforward and simple: a bounty hunter named John Ruth (Kurt Russell, in all his grizzled and mustachioed glory) is transporting a wanted fugitive (Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) through the mountains of Wyoming to town so she can be tried, found guilty, and hanged for her crimes. Before they can complete their journey, a blizzard forces them to stop at a halfway point and wait out the storm with a cast of interesting and potentially treacherous characters.
Among those characters is Major Marquis Warren, a former slave and retired Civil War Calvary hero, embodied with aplomb by the magnificent Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson is one of Tarantino's favorite actors - he has appeared, however briefly and sometimes in uncredited roles, in all but three of the director's films - and he has another great role in The Hateful Eight. Warren is funny, charming, and devious. He's a bounty hunter himself and is on somewhat friendly terms with Ruth, so they make a pact to help each other out until the storm clears and they can be on their way again. Jackson is able to portray Warren as both likable and despicable, sometimes in the same scene, and this makes for a very intriguing character to follow.
The rest of the cast is a mix a different archetypes - the gentlemanly foreigner (Tim Roth, using his native UK accent for a change), the Confederate general (Bruce Dern), the cowboy (Michael Madsen, in his first big film in a decade), the Mexican (Demián Bichir), and the Rebel outlaw (Walton Goggins) - but all are perfectly realized and unique characters played by talented actors. There's not a wasted character or performance among them and they all interconnect wonderfully.
My two favorite aspects of movies are the writing and the acting, two things Tarantino films always deliver, and The Hateful Eight is no different. Sometimes it's hard to separate the two: are the performances great because the characters are so well written or do the characters seem fantastic because the actors are elevating the material? I think it's a combination of both in this case.