The Hateful Eight showcases script writing genius of Quentin Tarantino, but still includes enough blood and guts to fill a swimming pool.

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is not something wildly new or unexpected from Tarantino, but it is simultaneously fresh and not tired or hackneyed. The film plays out more like a Tarantino greatest hits album.  

Audiences are immediately reassured by Samuel L. Jackson’s everlasting presence in all things Tarantino. Wasting no time, Jackson is the first character to speak, doing so on top of a pile of frozen bodies. However, other than Mr. Jackson — and a few other familiar actors — the rest of Hateful Eight consists of Tarantino breaking his standard mold of movie making, with plenty of the mind-numbing, gut-wrenching violence that he does best.

The film plays out like a post-Civil War game of Clue with far more murderers and plenty of the psychopathic wisdom essential to any Tarantino picture sprinkled throughout. What makes The Hateful Eight stand out from his other films is the intricate script writing with a strong emphasis on character development. At the beginning of the film, the audience is just like the characters: they don’t know any of the strangers and are apprehensive to trust them. However, as the film progresses, viewers learn more and more about those eight individuals and grow to trust in them more, or sometimes less.

Then there is the crux of any Tarantino picture: the object of desire. That object is the central aspect of every Tarantino movie — think of the suitcase from Pulp Fiction, Bill the boss from Kill Bill or the bag of diamonds in Reservoir Dogs. That is the thing that drives everybody crazy and ignites conflict, only this time, the object is not so abstract and far away. Previously, the whole object of the film had been the protection/capture of said object. In The Hateful Eight, the object is right in front of everybody’s eyes — but the question is, which person will take it?

It is truly remarkable, however, that a nearly three-hour film with such a limited cast in a stationary environment could retain attention for nearly two hours before anybody even gets shot. However, the confinement of the vast majority of the film makes Tarantino swiftly lunge at any opportunity to showcase directorial prowess. The beginning scene is a beautiful survey of nature, comparable to the opening of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, set in the Colorado mountains.  

The film has been the subject of much criticism — even from Tarantino fans — for its large focus on dialogue rather than constant bloodshed. Critics call it a “talky” largely because of the first half of the film, during which introductions are made and grudges are created, or even reignited.  However, the violence does come and, in fact, takes center stage, just as audiences expect from Tarantino. But if not for all the dialogue and build up of aggressions in the first half, it truly would have been the “senseless violence” that critics claim has plagued Tarantino’s career. Unlike Tarantino’s former films of fury and vengeance, the audience is shown the inception of all the aggression and few gaps are left for the viewer to fill in — at least no mysterious briefcase like in Pulp Fiction.

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However, as more and more characters dispense their own far-out twisted logic on crime, punishment, the war, or even themselves, it becomes clear that much of it is pure lies. The film becomes focused on one question: which stranger can you trust more? Is it the hangman, the cow puncher, the sheriff, the prisoner, the Mexican, the little man, the confederate or the bounty hunter?

Rating: 4.5/5


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